Spanish construction firm Ferrovial has announced plans to create a network of more than 25 so-called vertiports – sites where all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) jet aircraft can land, recharge, take on and disembark passengers, and take off again – across the UK. The announcement follows hot on the heels of the signing of an agreement to develop a network of more than ten vertiports in Florida with eVTOL aircraft manufacturer and operator Lilium.
Ferrovial, which holds a 25 per cent stake in London Heathrow Airport, along with interests in 32 other airports worldwide,has partnered with international architecture practice Grimshaw and global engineering, management and development consultancy Mott MacDonald to develop the design and engineering components of the vertiport infrastructure.
The facilities will be designed to support operations with eVTOL aircraft developer Vertical Aerospace’s four-passenger VA-X4 eVTOL. Ferrovial has an agreement with Vertical to determine the locations and design for the vertiports. Vertical is also collaborating with London Heathrow Airport to assess plans to integrate eVTOL air taxi operations with existing airline services at the UK’s main hub, which it hopes will be up and running in the UK by mid-decade.
Several operators, including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, JAL and Iberojet have placed a total of some 1,350 conditional pre-orders for the VA-X4, which can reportedly fly at a maximum speed of 320 km/h. Virgin Atlantic has said that it wants to use the aircraft as an air taxi, servicing routes of up to about 160 kilometres, such as Heathrow to Cambridge, which would replace a 90-minute-plus drive with a 28-minute flight.
‘The partnership between vertiports and eVTOLs will provide high speed, affordable, emissions-free travel to millions of people. This network will boost local economies with a new model of regional connectivity,’ said Kevin Cox, CEO of Ferrovial Vertiports.
‘Our partnership with Ferrovial is an important step forward in bringing the VA-X4 to the skies,’ said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and founder of Vertical. ‘Creating the right infrastructure for zero-emissions aviation is a critical part in making urban air mobility a reality. I look forward to flying between Ferrovial’s vertiports in the VA-X4 in just a few years’ time.’