‘Special’ Coventry flying taxi and drone airport gets a major lift

Urban-Air Port eVTOL vertiport

For most non-Brits who’ve heard of it, the West Midlands city Coventry is known as the birthplace of legendary ska band The Specials. Now, however, Coventry is gunning for a more up-to-date distinction: Home of the world’s first flying taxi and delivery drone airport.

Boosting UK urban air mobility activity

The project to build Coventry’s Air-One transport drone hub received a major boost this week when several influential actors – including the UK government – threw additional weight behind the effort. In doing so, they hope to thrust the country to the head of the global pack in urban air mobility activities.

The is the hub intended to demonstrate the ways increased urban air mobility for passengers and cargo can resolve worsening ground traffic congestion in an environmentally friendly manner — and generates new jobs to boot. NASA has said the nascent activity has a total available market value of $500 billion in the US alone.

In addition to its earlier $1.6 million financial support, the British government this week renewed its commitment to Air-One after major new partners came aboard. That involved the company behind Air-One, Urban-Air Port, teaming up with Altitude Angel and Safeguard Vertiports

Major partners backing the transport drone hub…

Altitude Angel has developed an intuitive, cost-effective platform to digitally operate unified traffic management services that Air-One will use once operating. Safeguard Vertiport is working to establish a certification program for specialized drones that meets UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations. 

The project got an early lift from Korea’s Hyundai Motor Group, which matched London’s financial support of it. Vehicles produced in Hyundai’s $1.5 billion electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) project will be featured at Air-One when it opens in November — something akin to early advertising ahead of their expected arrival on markets in 2028.

Indeed, futuristic though it is, there will be a lot more projecting and performance than futuristic transporting at Air-One – at least initially. Rather than drones spiriting passengers and goods to and from its landing pads, the hub will instead serve to demonstrate how service-providing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fit into and operate in urban settings. 

…which initially won’t actually transport much

To help give the public a better understanding of how it will all work – eventually – UK drone developers Malloy Aeronautics will demonstrate large cargo UAVs operating in and out of the hub. Visitors will also get a look at the hub’s recharging stations, elevated take-off and landing platforms, and other facilities. Absent, for now, will be professionals jumping from arriving eVTOL taxis and rushing to make nearby appointments on time. 

That’s no fault of Air-One’s, of course. Because as Urban-Air Ports CEO Ricky Sandhu reminded Sky News, “I don’t think anybody can do actual passenger flights yet.”

Until they do, meeting Coventry’s George Jetson will have to wait.

Photo: Urban Air Port / SWNS

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