It’s been said before but bears repeating: Skyports is certainly on a roll. In addition to the recent spate of deals it has struck around the globe, the London-based builder of infrastructure for electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft has now been chosen to build Europe’s first test vertiport outside Paris.
Skyports, which calls itself the world’s leading designer, developer, and operator of eVTOL vertiports, has been tapped to create and operate the trial facility at a small airfield in Cergy-Pontoise northwest of Paris. Backed by a host of major air and other transport actors, the test vertiport will be used to prepare advance air mobility (AAM) services like air taxis that officials have pledged will begin in time for the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.
Project partners include the operator of Paris area airports, Groupe ADP, the capital’s mass transit system RATP Group, and the Choose Paris Region agency promoting business implantation in the region. It falls under their mutual Re.Invent Air Mobility initiative seeking to plan, speed, and launch new AAM services in and around Paris. As a reflection of the importance of efforts to prepare for next generation urban air transport, the venture is also being supported by France’s civil aviation authority and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
Skyports has been tasked with building and managing the trial vertiport, whose functioning will initially allow participants to test and perfect technological and operational aspects of AAM. The Cergy-Pontoise location, meanwhile, allows the project to be run within the environment of a functioning Paris airport, albeit one with sufficiently limited traffic to ensure safety in that live environment.
The world’s top eVTOL aircraft manufacturers like Volocopter, Vertical Aerospace, Airbus, Pipistrel, eHang, and others will be invited to stage test and demonstration flights at the vertiport. That access aims to assist those companies in preparing for what Paris officials hope will be the launch of their respective air taxi services ahead of the 2024 Games.
“Our Pontoise airfield brings together a unique ecosystem around new air mobility, and the trial platform we are launching today is unprecedented in Europe,” said Groupe ADP Chairman and CEO Augustin de Romanet. “It will function as a concrete experiment to explore the field of possibilities of a decarbonized and innovative aviation, and to develop the low altitude aviation market which has been largely unexplored until now.”
The vertiport will be equipped with a range of up-to-date tech applications, including biometric identity management, eVTOL re-charging equipment, situational awareness capabilities, and weather stations. Data collected during trial operation of the facility will be used to shape developing AAM regulatory frameworks.
Like many Skyports infrastructure projects, the Cergy-Pontoise unit will be of modular design, allowing it to be relocated for use one the initial trial period is over.
Announcement of the test vertiport agreement comes just week after Skyports concluded a deal with LAZ Parking to build similar eVTOL facilities across Los Angeles. Previously the company bagged AAM infrastructure deals in Asia, and drone delivery contracts across Europe.