Unveiled: The Plans for First UK Air Taxi Vertiport

Aerial layout of new vertiport facility in Bicester, Oxfordshire.
Image Credit: Skyports

A 444-acre estate in Bicester, Oxfordshire looks now set to become the location of the first vertiport facility in the United Kingdom. The vertiport will support operations of the coming generation of eVTOL air taxi aircraft.

Skyports Infrastructure (Skyports), a leading vertiport infrastructure provider for the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry, has recently made a significant stride in the United Kingdom’s aviation landscape.

The company has inked a deal to establish the UK’s inaugural vertiport testbed at Bicester Motion, located in Oxfordshire.

Bicester Vertiport

Spanning across a sprawling 444-acre estate, Bicester Motion is dedicated to advancing mobility technology, encompassing both past achievements and future innovations.

The upcoming vertiport is slated to feature a compact passenger terminal covering 160 square meters.

Beyond serving as a hub for testing ground infrastructure and flight operations, this facility will be instrumental in fostering the emergence of electric, low-noise aviation within the UK.

Positioned in close proximity to Bicester Motion’s existing general aviation grass runways, the vertiport signifies a continuation of the airfield’s rich legacy of aerospace innovation.

Aerial layout of new vertiport facility in Bicester, Oxfordshire.
Image Credit: Skyports

Moreover, it aligns with Bicester Motion’s overall vision of integrating traditional and vertical aviation operations from its premises.

Skyports’ new vertiport will boast several key features, including a compact terminal and passenger processing facilities.

An operations room using Vertiport Automation System (VAS) technology, and situational awareness modules for airspace monitoring finishes the layout.

A Pivotal AAM Node

Developed as part of the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium and supported by Innovate U.K.’s Future Flight Challenge, the vertiport will serve as a pivotal node for early vertiport network planning and demonstrations.

It will also facilitate the group’s broader testing agenda and engage with the public and its partners effectively.

Notably, Vertical Aerospace, a global leader in developing advanced electric aircraft, will conduct demonstration flights and pivotal testing procedures at the vertiport ahead of its commercial launch.

Render of the Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOL aircraft.
Image Credit: Vertical Aerospace

2024 Inauguration

Skyports aims to open its UK vertiport by the end of 2024, aligning with the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium’s testing program.

This project follows Skyports’ successful launch of a “Living Lab” terminal in the USA in collaboration with Joby Aviation in October 2022.

Additionally, the company launched its European vertiport testbed with Groupe ADP in France during the same year.

In a move forward, Skyports joined forces with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority and Joby Aviation in February 2024. Together, they signed an agreement to launch commercial air taxi services in Dubai by 2026.

A Joby Aviation eVTOL aircraft in Dubai.
Image Credit: Joby Aviation

Drawing inspiration from its existing testbeds in Paris and California, Skyports has designed the UK vertiport with strategic foresight and innovation.

Skyports’ vertiport at Bicester Motion boasts a strategic location, just an hour and 40 minutes’ drive from central London. This highlights the vertiport’s potential to connect urban centers with regional, tourism, and retail hubs.

By supporting air taxi services, journeys that typically consume hours by road can be completed in less than 25 minutes. This quantum shift holds potential to revolutionize the transportation efficiency.

Industry Comments

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, stressed the vertiport’s strategic significance. He describes it as being a central hub for the UK’s advanced air mobility industry.

He explained the facility’s role in refining ground technology and operations within a UK context. Walker noted the importance of early demonstration flights and future operations.

Daniel Geoghegan, CEO of Bicester Motion, hailed the partnership with Skyports as a landmark achievement for UK aviation innovation.

He stressed the leading potential of this collaboration in developing sustainable, low-carbon modes of transport worldwide.

Geoghegan sees Bicester Motion as a pioneer in this developing industry, primed to lead the way in aviation evolution.

Gary Cutts, Challenge Director of Future Flight at Innovate U.K., lauded Skyports’ vertiport as a crucial asset. The facility will be instrumental in advancing aviation solutions for the UK.

He stressed the role of leading projects like the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium. These initiatives will be important in lifting the UK’s position as a global aviation leader.

James Richmond, Head of Advanced Air Mobility at AtkinsRéalis, emphasized the new vertiport’s significance. It plays a key role in demonstrating the feasibility of air taxi services in the UK.

He stressed the opportunity to optimize the passenger journey, ensuring seamless accessibility and security for all stakeholders.

Andrew Macmillan, Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer at Vertical Aerospace, pointing out the collective effort required to realize the vision of electric aviation.

He stressed the importance of infrastructure development, with the UK’s first vertiport poised to speed progress in this realm.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 6 Min Read
6 Min Read
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