Coventry, a city in the United Kingdom, will play host to the world’s first airport for electric flying cars and delivery drones. Urban Air Port will build the Air One transport hub next to the city’s Ricoh Arena and will open later this year. It’ll be used to transport cargo and hopefully even people later across cities.
The city was specifically chosen by the company for its relatively central location and also because it’s a historically prominent location for both the aerospace and automobile industries. The project received a £1.2 million grant after winning the Government’s Future Flight Challenge, and the city is now in an urban air mobility partnership that’s backed by the UK Government.
“Cars need roads. Trains need rails. Planes need airports. eVTOLs will need Urban Air Ports. Over 100 years ago, the world’s first commercial flight took off, creating the modern connected world. Urban Air Port will improve connectivity across our cities, boost productivity and help the UK take the lead in a whole new clean global economy. Flying cars used to be a futuristic flight of fancy. Air-One will bring clean urban air transport to the masses and unleash a new airborne world of zero-emission mobility,” said Ricky Sandhu, Urban Air Port’s founder and executive chairman.
The zero-emission airport is part of a larger global drive to improve urban transportation by lowering air pollution levels and traffic congestion, and working towards a zero-carbon future. The project is backed by both the Hyundai Motor Group and the Coventry City Council; the former is currently working on creating commercial flying vehicles with an estimated in-production goal of 2028.
Pamela Cohn, a chief operating officer for the Hyundai Motor Group’s Urban Air Mobility Division stated “As we advanced our eVTOL aircraft program, development of supporting infrastructure is imperative. Air-One is a unique project set to help lead the way in developing a robust, accessible, and intermodal infrastructure network for future mobility. We are excited to be part of this partnership in the UK and look forward to working together to create community impact and opportunity through safe, affordable, and human-centered mobility solutions.”
When it first opens, the airport will first launch an education program for the public. Malloy Aeronautics, a UK-based drone developer, will host live demonstrations of its large cargo drones and its Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Currently, Urban Air Port has plans to open over 200 similar locations worldwide by 2025. While that may sound ambitious, it should actually be fairly easy, as the compact airports are designed to be easily and quickly dismantled and reassembled. They can even be used for emergency or disaster relief.
Urban Air Ports efforts all hinge on NASA’s predictions that city-based air transportation could be worth as much as $500 million soon, in just the United States, though the country currently lacks the infrastructure. Other financial estimates value the new travel mode closer to £1 trillion as eVTOL vehicles and infrastructure become more established.