Italian aerospace group Leonardo is working with Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) to develop vertiports and other advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure. Under an agreement signed during the recent World ATM Congress, Leonardo’s expertise in air traffic management will contribute to a partnership launched by the Rome airports group in October 2021 with infrastructure company Atlantia and eVTOL aircraft developer Volocopter.
In addition to developing AAM networks around the Italian capital, the partners want to establish them in the northeastern city of Venice and also in the south of France. Leonardo, which has engineering teams working on uncrewed and remotely piloted aircraft, will help to “transition AdR’s airport assets into smart hubs.” The teams plan to conduct trial operations at as-yet-unspecified locations to test available technology and evaluate operating processes and regulatory issues.
According to AdR’s chief aviation officer, Ivan Bassato, the collaborative project aims to be ready to support “experimental” eVTOL air taxi services between the center of Rome and Fiumicino Airport by 2024. “This is a perfect synthesis of our commitment to two key strategic objectives, sustainability and innovation, which we also prioritize in our infrastructure projects for the airport of the future,” he said.
Leonardo is a highly diversified group involved in helicopter manufacturing, aerostructures work for fixed-wing aircraft, and advanced electronics systems for civil and defense applications. In April 2021, the company announced plans to develop a hybrid-electric-powered light helicopter, and it is also developing the carbon compositive fuselage for Vertical Aerospace’s VX-4 eVTOL model. In addition, it has been working on a project called Next Generation Tiltrotor, although the status of this work remains unclear.
“Leveraging Leonardo’s expertise in manned and unmanned air traffic management platforms, we can position ourselves as one of Aeroporti di Roma’s key technological partners in the highly challenging sector of advanced air mobility,” said Laurent Sissmann, Leonardo’s senior vice president for unmanned systems. “In the future, thanks to the progressive implementation of new technologies, this will allow for more agile, faster, and sustainable travel in complete safety.”