The UK government’s Future Flight Challenge has granted £9.5m to a new consortium that aims to advance the testing and use of electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight services like air taxis.
The Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium comprises aviation companies Vertical Aerospace, Virgin Atlantic, Skyports, and NATS, and engineering firm Atkins, along with Connected Places Catapult and leading academic institutions Cranfield University and the University of Warwick.
Together, the organisations will develop key technology and infrastructure in a project that aims to significantly accelerate the introduction of advanced air mobility (AAM) in the UK, with plans to transition into full commercial operations.
Gary Cutts, Future Flight Challenge Director at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), said: “Our roadmap sets out how air taxis could be in use in the UK by 2030, but a lot needs to occur for that to happen.
“By bringing technical developments from across the aviation industry together into one network, and undertaking early demonstration in the real-world, the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium could accelerate the timescale for AAM introduction by years. This project could revolutionise travel, not just in the UK but around the world.”
The consortium will undertake activities ranging from vertiport construction and testing of navigation tech, to the trial of air taxi flights to Heathrow Airport and longer hauls between London and Bristol.
Duncan Walker, Skyports CEO, said: “Just as airports are critical to commercial aeroplane travel, vertiports are critical to AAM.
“Our Living Lab will be a central component of the consortium, enabling Skyports and partners to demonstrate end-to-end operations and test the complexities of developing a commercially viable AAM network in the UK.”
James Richmond, head of Advanced Air Mobility at Atkins, added: “This is an exciting leap forward for AAM. This project brings together experts from across the industry to maintain the UK’s leading position in the future of aviation, moving us closer to commercial operations that will connect regions and contribute to the UK’s net zero targets.”
The new UK AAM consortium is expected to continue its developmental work for an initial period of two years, with the Heathrow air taxi trials expected before the end of 2024.
Image credit: Vertical Aerospace
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