Skyports to Build First Drone Taxi Vertiport Near Paris Ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics
BY Zacc Dukowitz1 December 2021
London-based Skyports recently announced plans to build the first test vertiport in Europe.
The vertiport is part of an ambitious effort to launch Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) services—i.e., drone taxis—in Paris ahead of the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics.
Skyports’s work is focused on the construction of infrastructure to support AAM operations. This primarily means that they make vertiports, which are airports for taxi drones (or eVTOL aircraft in general), but they also do work to support medical and commercial drone deliveries.
Some models for vertiports use small, standalone locations made just for AAM. This is the case with those planned by Lilium, an eVTOL company that is planning a $25 million vertiport hub in Orlando.
But the vertiport that Skyport plans to make in France will be built into an existing airfield, the Cergy-Pontoise Airfield, which is located northwest of Paris.
The location will allow for the vertiport to be a testing ground for how AAM technology can be integrated into existing aircraft operations. The airfield’s small size and relatively low traffic make it an ideal place for this kind of testing, since logistical and safety considerations won’t be nearly as complex there as they would be at a larger, busier airport.
Our Pontoise airfield brings together a unique ecosystem around new air mobility and the trial platform we are launching today is unprecedented in Europe. It will function as a concrete experiment to explore the field of possibilities of a decarbonised metand innovative aviation, and to develop the low altitude aviation market (below 300 metres [984 feet]), which has been largely unexplored until now.
– Augustin de Romanet, Chairman and CEO of Groupe ADP
About the Paris Vertiport
Skyport’s planned vertiport is part of a much larger push to make AAM a reality in Paris ahead of the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Like most ambitious AAM projects we hear about these days, this effort has lots of public and private stakeholders. The Paris project is being led by the Re.Invent Air Mobility initiative, and includes the following partners:
- Group ADP—a French airport operator
- RATP Group—a global mobility company
- Choose Paris Region—a French agency for business and innovation
- DGAC—the French Civil Aviation Authority
- EASA—the European Union Aviation Safety Agency
According to Skyport, the Paris vertiport will use a suite of technologies, including biometric identity management, recharging equipment, situational awareness capabilities, and weather stations. The vertiport will be made using modular technology, so that it can be relocated to another location after the 2024 Summer Olympics.
Technology will play a critical role in ensuring the safety and operational efficiency of vertiports. The integration of technology is at the core of our vertiport design, development and operation. At Skyports we are developing our systems in collaboration with vehicle manufacturers, operators and leading aviation tech companies.
– Ankit Dass, Chief Technology Officer at Skyports
The goal of the test site is to conduct rigorous testing and demonstrations in order to establish operational procedures for developing AAM regulations, and ultimately to get commercial drone taxi operations live by the summer of 2024.
Once the regulatory framework exists in Paris to allow for these operations, the vertiport will transition from a test site to a functional takeoff and landing location for drone taxi operations.
Several eVTOL vehicle makers have already been announced as partners for testing their technology at the vertiport, including:
- Vertical Aerospace
Skyports Making Global Moves
The announcement of the Paris vertiport is just one recent win for Skyport, which has had an impressive run of accomplishments over the last few months.
Here are some highlights:
- Last week, Skyports announced a big deal with LAZ Parking to build vertiports across the city of Los Angeles.
- Two weeks ago, Skyports launched the world’s first vertiport in Singapore.
- In September, Skyports won the first ever approval for open-ended BVLOS drone delivery in Ireland, which is applicable across the European Union.
According to a 2021 report from the EASA, the single biggest challenge to launching AAM services is infrastructure—the facilities and supporting technology needed to operate these new kinds of airborne vehicles just doesn’t exist right now.
But companies like Skyport and Lilium, and several others, are working to create that infrastructure. And it seems like they’re making real progress.