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Vertiports: The Latest Workplace And Hotel Amenity Is About To Take Off

Big drones: vertical takeoff and landing aircraft

The latest in workplace amenity is about to take off, thanks to a deal between Heathrow co-owner Ferrovial, electric aviation business Vertical Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Vertiports — landing spots for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, or VTOLs — will be created at 25 locations around the UK to create links to Heathrow airport.

The move is being hailed as part of a shift to zero-carbon aviation.

Grimshaw will design the vertiports and Vertical Aerospace the aircraft. Mott Macdonald is also advising.

Last year Ferrovial, which has a 25% stake in Heathrow, signed an agreement with Lillium to build and operate 10 U.S. vertiports focused on Floridaand it has also been at work on a 20-vertiport network in Spain.

Vertiports will look like fancy helipads and are perched on or near workplaces and hotels. They will provide a place to land, to recharge the vehicle’s electric batteries, and to receive passengers, and will be the focus of the still-nascent flying taxi market.

Helipads just got sexy

The difficulty for landlords, designers and operators is that some types of VTOLs may require slightly different vertiport configurations to handle different vehicle specification and recharging needs: Ferrovial has opted for spaces that can adapt to most options.

The Ferrovial venture is seeking a share of a market Hyundai Air Mobility estimated to be approaching $1.5 trillion over the next 20 years. It is one of half a dozen joint ventures looking to move into the sector. 

The first in the air is likely to be either Uber, which insists it will operate an aerial taxi service by 2023, or Skyports, which is co-operating with Groupe ADP, Greater Paris transport operator RATP Groupe and Volocopter to provide an urban aerial capacity for the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Investment in the production of VTOLs is picking up fast. Bristol-based Vertical secured funding from Mudrick Capital, American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Microsoft’s M12 and Rolls-Royce. It already has expressions of interest in as many as 1,350 of its proposed mass-production VTOLs said to be worth $5.4B, Flight Global reports. They could be flying over a city near you in 2025.