Volocopter and its ground infrastructure partner SkyPorts will open what they say is the world’s first vertiport for eVTOL aircraft in Singapore on October 21. The hardware for what the Germany-based eVTOL developer is branding as a Voloport is being manufactured in China and will be shipped to Singapore at the end of September for final assembly at the downtown Marina Bay site.
The vertiport will be used to illustrate the urban air mobility concept to city officials and regulators. The partners are hoping to launch commercial services in Singapore from 2022. The opening of the VoloPort prototype structure coincides with the 2019 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress, which is being hosted by Singapore.
On September 3, SkyPorts managing director Duncan Walker told the Global Urban Air Summit at Farnborough in the UK that the support of Singapore’s civil aviation authority, transport ministry, and economic development board has been critical in expediting the approval process for building the vertiport. He explained that his UK-based company is working to develop eVTOL ground infrastructure with several aircraft manufacturers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. “Generally, the regulatory process for [urban air mobility] ground infrastructure is a complete mess; there is no commonality in regulations and we need to make better progress with this to achieve scalability worldwide,” said Walker. “The locations we have picked out for development has been driven more by politics, in terms of getting the right support from the authorities, rather than just economics.”
Walker shared the viewpoint of other summit speakers in indicating that social acceptance of eVTOL aircraft operations in urban areas is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. “Social acceptance does not matter very much to [the authorities] in Singapore, and in China, too, they have a very different view of social acceptance,” he commented. “This business model will launch more quickly in societies that are more accepting of new technology and with a higher tolerance for risk.”
In August, Volocopter announced the launch of its first series production eVTOL aircraft under the name VoloCity.