We’ve got yet another #UAMglossary entry for you! Today we’re looking at the term vertiport – what is it and why is it so important to Volocopter and to the rest of the eVTOL world?
What is a vertiport?
A vertiport (a new term comprising the words “vertical” and “port”) is essentially a mini airport terminal for electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs). However, their structure is quite different to the image of an airport that you probably have in your head. Conventional airports feature multiple runways that planes use to take off and land, as well as plenty of crucial infrastructure besides, all of which make flying possible.
Comparatively, a vertiport needs a much smaller physical scope. If we compare the two, we notice that a standard city airport covers some 1,500 to 3,000 hectares (3,700 to 7,400 acres) of land. A fully functioning vertiport may be as small as 625 square meters (6,727 square feet) or 0.06 hectares (0.15 acres) and easily scaled up as needed.
Why do eVTOLs need vertiports?
In theory, eVTOL aircraft like the VoloCity could land in any open space – like a car park or a rooftop. Existing infrastructure such as helipads and commercial airports are even better suited for this task. But, a vertiport is much more than just a place for an eVTOL to land. It also serves as a customer service point and, in our case, plays an important part in maintaining the aircraft via the Volocopter battery swap and management systems. Furthermore, a vertiport placed at a strategic point in a city (a central train stations, for example) would be able to bridge the mobility gap efficiently.
Volocopter & its (future) vertiports
For Volocopter, vertiports are an essential part of the urban air mobility experience that we aim to provide. Our aircraft and services are set to be the epitome of convenience. So, our VoloPort vertiports will need to satisfy the same standards. To achieve this level of seamlessness, efficiency, and comfort, we have chosen to build our ground infrastructure with selected specialist partners, with whom we’ve created a concept that does our aircraft justice yet is still open for other eVTOLs. What’s more, we are working with civil aviation authorities and with the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE), as well as with ASTM International, and General Aviation Manufacture’s Association (GAMA) to proactively drive the development of standardized vertiports around the world.
And we already know our formula works. As the first vertiport demo case worldwide, we built and unveiled our first VoloPort prototype in Singapore back in 2019. This allowed us to focus on establishing and further developing the process around the distribution of our VoloPorts. And we’re very much looking forward to making them a standard feature of megacities across the globe.