UMILES attended the presentations of prestigious professionals in Advance Air Mobility during Amsterdam Drone Week

UMILES Group attended the Amsterdam Drone Week (ADW), which was held at the RAI Amsterdam convention center, to learn first-hand about the latest developments in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and attend the presentations of prestigious professionals within the market.

Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), was optimistic during his presentation at the first conference, stating that around 93% of people perceived drones positively, and 71% of Europeans are ready to try the services provided by UAM, according to data from a recent EASA survey.

UAM/AAM is presented as the great revolution in the transport of people and goods using eVTOL aircraft (electric and vertical takeoff and landing) technology that is getting closer to being implemented. Although it is true that some questions will arise about how this market value will be created and how the necessary technologies will be used to create this new mobility scenario, topics that have been discussed in the different ADW conferences.

U-space was another of the topics that was discussed due to its importance in supporting safety, efficiency and access to airspace for drones. This system adopts the rules and conditions for the safe integration of drones with manned aviation, and mandatory compliance in the European Union as of January 26, 2023. María Algar, Drone Program Manager at EASA, stated that “In Spain, everything that has to do with the implementation of U-space is the responsibility of Enaire, which is going to be the first Common Information Services Provider (CISP), as well as the first U-space Services Provider (USSP). Enaire wants this service (USSP) to be open to the market”. In fact, companies like Unifly and Airbus UTM are rolling out their USSP services for Enaire. “What is clear is that Spain will have its U-space”, concludes María Algar.

María Algar & Carlos Poveda

María Algar & Carlos Poveda

How does Air Mobility work?

Carlos Poveda, CEO of UMILES Group, who was also present at ADW 2022, spoke about the role of the aircraft manufacturing company UMILES Group which through its mobility division UMILES Next, is in contact with administrations, regulators, and operators to better understand the needs of the market. “In UMILES Next, from the beginning we have maintained a close relationship with AESA, EASA, as well as other international agencies such as the FAA, since it is essential for us to know both the needs and the limitations in order to develop and build aircraft that are viable and meet the real needs of the market”.

Another aspect to take into account in this new air mobility system is the role of each of the actors. On the one hand, there are the manufacturers of eVTOL aircraft and on the other, the operating companies. UMILES Group is clear about its role. “It is an issue on which we have thought carefully and finally we position ourselves as a manufacturer, since the operator must be our ally and main client”, highlighted Carlos Poveda.

Vetiports of the future

For the development of this technology, it is necessary for public and private entities to cooperate with each other to develop the infrastructures that will be part of the landscape of the future, where eVTOL aircraft will operate in the areas set up for this purpose. They are called vertiports. The question that arises is the following: how can vertiports be integrated into a city and what challenges are faced by the companies that will develop and operate them?

Gonzalo Velasco, Director of the Business and Innovation Plan at Ferrovial Airports, who was a speaker at some of the EASA conferences at ADW 2022, states that “the biggest challenge in developing vertiports is finding the right location”. In this search for the optimal location of the vertiport, other influential factors include “land availability, airspace compatibility and connectivity with other means of transport, electrical connection, etc.” Other challenges that Ferrovial faces when developing vertiports are aspects related to “the lack of a specific regulation for vertiports, the fast charging infrastructure for eVTOLs or the towing of these aircraft onto airfields”. The role of public institutions will be a key factor in this development. “It is essential that the entire value chain be supported by public institutions, because it will not do any good to develop eVTOLs if they cannot operate from infrastructures that provide an adequate service for potential users.”

Gonzalo Velasco

Gonzalo Velasco

Regarding the time we will have to wait to see these infrastructures built, Gonzalo Velasco assures that “some experimental vertiport is already being developed, but of a temporary nature. Ferrovial Vertiports plans to have the first operational infrastructure in place, in Florida in 2024, and little by little, hopes to develop vertiport networks in different regions of the US, the UK and Europe”.

The Managing Director of Openvia Air, Gema Ferrero, a company that works on the development of a network of vertiports, assures us the design of these infrastructures must be adapted to “the mobility needs of both people and cargo, adapting the infrastructure to the different locations and different use cases”. On the other hand, “the addition of new vertiports to a city will result in a substantial increase in the routes available to passengers. That is why we are working with different cities and regions on the initial design of the network and its subsequent evolution”, she explains. To achieve its purpose, Openvia Air is working on a vertiport model that is “open for all, in close collaboration with eVTOL and drone manufacturers to define the infrastructure requirements and begin to follow the critical path in order to allow safe and secure operations efficiently”.

Gema Ferrero – Openvia

Gema Ferrero – Openvia

UMILES Group air taxi participates in real-flight scenarios

In this new ecosystem, UMILES Next participates in real-flight scenarios with its air taxi within the framework of the European projects TindAIR, AMU-LED and U-space for UAM. “Starting next month we will begin to carry out real demonstrations in France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and different locations in Spain, to verify both the U-space services in constant development, as well as the efficiency of our systems, and to study the safest and most efficient way of integrating these aircraft into the airspace together with the rest of the users and actors in the sector”, indicates the CEO of UMILES Group, Carlos Poveda.

Without a doubt, Amsterdam Drone Week has been a great stage for the exchange of knowledge within the Urban Air Mobility Sector.