MEBAA Convention News

AAM Center Will Support eVTOL Aircraft Operations in the UAE

 - December 7, 2022, 5:20 AM
L-R: Tahnoon Saif, CEO, Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub at Dubai South; Dr. Fethi Chebil, CEO and Founder, VPorts; and Walid Ibrahim Al Rahmani, Assistant Director General—Strategy and International Affairs of UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). (Photo: David McIntosh)

Vertiport infrastructure provider VPorts is partnering with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA; Stand 900) and Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH; Stand 950) at Dubai South on an advanced air mobility (AAM) incubator. Set to open in 2024, the hub will include dedicated flight-testing airspace, assigned block airspace, and new technologies to foster the burgeoning AAM industry.

VPorts has signed a 25-year lease, renewable for another 25 years, with MBRAH to establish the $40 million AAM center on a 37,000-sq-m site within Dubai South. Construction will start next year, with operations and flight testing to follow a year later.

According to MBRAH CEO Tahnoon Saif, the center is expected to generate $7 billion in direct revenues over the initial lease period and create 1,500 high-paying direct jobs. “This first-of-its-kind center will enable and support worldwide electric vertical takeoff and landing [eVTOL] aircraft manufacturers and operators with flight testing facilities in all conditions. It will also position Dubai as a world leader in AAM,” he added. 

VPorts is developing an advanced air mobility incubator in Dubai
VPorts is developing an advanced air mobility incubator in Dubai. (Image: VPorts)

As part of the agreement, Canada-based VPorts will partner with private investors to deliver AAM infrastructure, development, and operations, allowing multiple revenue streams for the center. Nexa Capital Partners is leading the initial funding round, gathering a consortium of already active AAM investors.

GCAA director general Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi explained that the agency’s plan is to cultivate a cluster for the AAM ecosystem “to thrive and grow this new entrant mode of transportation globally from a hub right here in Dubai.”

VPorts will deploy its vertiport operation control center (VOCC) hub at the AAM incubator to manage air traffic integration and set up communication protocols between eVTOLs, vertiports, and air navigation service providers. The center will also employ artificial intelligence to access data for resource management, ensuring efficient sequencing of eVTOLs landing, taking off, and transiting between vertiports.

By 2030, VPorts expects to expand its vertiport network to include all major industrial areas in the UAE, including Dubai South, Jebel Ali, Sharjah, and Ras Al-Khaimah, permitting eVTOL air-taxi operations throughout the country.

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