Dubai Advanced Air Mobility 'integrator Center' Will Support Evtol Aircraft Operations In The Uae

Dubai Advanced Air Mobility 'integrator Center' Will Support Evtol Aircraft Operations In The Uae
Courtesy by Aviation International News

Several United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have approved the development of an advanced air mobility (AAM) business park in Dubai. Located within Dubai South, the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH) will be built by ground infrastructure group VPorts.

Canada-based VPorts has signed a 25-year lease for a 37,000-square-meter (nine-acre) site during the MEBAA business aviation trade show in Dubai. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023, and the first part of the facility is expected to open in 2024, with an investment of $40 million over three years.

"AAM integrator center," as VPorts describes the development, aims to attract eVTOL aircraft developers. This site is expected to attract companies working on multiple aspects of the AAM ecosystem, such as air traffic management and support services, as well as tenants who will have access to approved airspace for flight testing. A 25-year extension option is included in the lease agreement with MBRAH.

A new investment round will be led by Nexa Capital Partners to help VPorts raise more funds for the Dubai development. The UAE facility will generate $7 billion in direct revenues for Dubai and Abu Dhabi over the next 25 years, and 1,500 jobs will be created, according to VPorts, which is also working on another AAM project in Quebec and New York.

VPorts will develop vertiports in Dubai South, Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras Al-Khaimah that will serve multimodal transportation across the UAE by 2030. In 2045, the company plans to operate 1,500 vertiports worldwide, according to founder and CEO Fethi Chebil. According to him, eVTOL operations on the VPorts network will likely involve delivering freight and supporting medical missions, including carrying patients, supplies, and organs.

VPorts plans to develop a network of vertiports for eVTOL flights across the United Arab Emirates.

According to Chebil, vertiports should be set up on existing helipads. There are also excellent options for industrial and cargo areas. This important undertaking will require collaboration with every emirate to determine the locations of dedicated vertiports, safety and security regulations, flight corridors, urban integration, and business community engagement.

VPorts calls Dubai South's facility the Vertiport Operation Control Center, which will integrate and communicate air traffic between eVTOL aircraft operators, vertiports, and air navigation service providers. Additionally, the center will serve as a cargo loading facility, a ground handling facility, a security screening facility, and a battery charging facility.

The AAM integrator center will include universities and research organizations based in the UAE. The company is developing a "Smart Digital Green Innovation Network" with academics involved in technologies related to AAM, which so far includes eight universities in Canada, the University of Sharjah, and the American University of Sharjah.

There are seven emirates in the UAE, including the capital Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm Al Quwain. There has been no announcement of plans to start operations for eVTOL aircraft in the country as of yet. Saudia, though, plans to buy up to 100 of Lilium's six-passenger eVTOL vehicles in neighboring Saudi Arabia.

VPorts expects that the AAM integrator center will provide capabilities that will assist in achieving type certification for eVTOL aircraft in the UAE. The General Civil Aviation Authority of the country supports the partnership announced this week. Its commitment to VPorts is driven by a desire to make Dubai one of the world's leading centers for the emerging AAM business, according to MBRAH chief executive Tahnoon Saif.

The Dubai-based heliport operator Air Chateau announced plans to develop vertiports with Kookiejar during the MEBAA show. A further announcement about those facilities will be made in 2023, according to the partners.

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