eVTOL Vertiports Design and Operations
Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing air vehicle (eVTOL) are emerging and will certainly revolutionise urban mobility in the coming decades.
As the first prototypes are currently being developed, and first test or demonstration flights conducted, new “vertiports” infrastructure is required together with an operational concept to integrate their safe operations in the existing system.
Vertiports will be a crucial enabler for Urban Air Mobility, but while regulations do exist to some extent for eVTOL aircraft, very few regulations or guidelines exists for vertiport design and operations or are still under development (e.g. by EASA). As of today, it is in most cases the responsibility of the eVTOL manufacturer or vertiport operator to conduct initial feasibility studies and assessments of the proposed vertiport’s infrastructure and operations, and to obtain approval from the responsible civil aviation authorities.
Additionally, a safety-based approach is often required to demonstrate that risks have been identified and mitigated at all levels, especially for specific eVTOL operations which differ from common accepted practises used at heliports.
airsight, as a world leading aviation consultancy, has been commissioned in the past few months by several eVTOL aircraft manufacturers as well as airport and vertiport operators to assist them in the development of specific infrastructure (temporary or fixed) and associated concept of operations.
Vertiports – Current Use-Cases
eVTOL aircrafts are mainly still prototypes. Their flights are used for testing or demonstration purposes these days, at dedicated “isolated” facilities – but also more and more often at existing aerodromes.
More recently, numerous airports of various size and complexity have announced their plans to develop ground infrastructure for eVTOL aircraft. To name a few, Cranfield, Cologne, Dusseldorf Airports as well as several aerodromes of the group Aéroport de Paris (ADP) are part of such initiatives.
In a not so distant future, one can imagine that most airports will become a central component of intermodal urban air mobility. For this reason, aerodrome operators, eVTOL aircraft manufacturers and regulators collaborate on both the short and long-term planning and integration of vertiports.
Heliports vs Vertiports – the similarities
Vertiport have some similarities with heliports, but also have numerous specificities to consider.
Some main infrastructural elements of a vertiport can be inspired from ICAO Annex 14 Volume 2, Heliports. This includes in terms of conceptual design: markings, lightings, Touchdown and Lift-Off (TLOF) area as well as Final Approach and Take-Off (FATO) area.
Also, numerous organisational and operational considerations are common to both vertiports and heliports, e.g. safety management, and most importantly, planned flight trajectories and airspace integration.
Nevertheless, as the flight characteristics and reliability of eVTOL aircraft are different to conventional helicopters, most heliports requirements should be adapted using a safety-based approach and considering the local specificities.
Like heliports (see this article), vertiports are subject to approval or certification, and most CAAs are putting more scrutiny on this new type of infrastructure and eVTOL vehicle operations prior to granting authorisation or planning approval.
airsight Services around vertiports and eVTOL operations
airsight is an airport and heliport planning and operations expert, a flight procedure design and airspace integration organisation, and a world leading aviation safety consultancy. Established in 1999, with more than 700 projects successfully conducted, airsight is the preferred one-stop-shop for vertiport projects and eVTOL aircraft (and also Unmanned Aerial Vehicles).
Our services include:
- Feasibility studies of future vertiports and eVTOL-Operations, including unmanned flight operations
- Vertiports ground infrastructure planning and design
- Vertiports flight procedure design (arrivals and departures) and eVTOL airspace integration
- Specific airspace integration of flight-testing operations (e.g. within restricted airspaces)
- Vertiports and eVTOLs concept of operations (CONOPs) development
- Development of UTM concepts (UAS Traffic Management System)
- Safety Assessments for vertiports and eVTOL and UAS operations
- Support in vertiport’s certification or approval process
- Regulatory support to Civil Aviation Authorities and Organisations