The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Volatus Infrastructure Plans New Vertiport at Texas Airport

Volatus Infrastructure, a company designing low-cost vertiports for eVTOL aircraft, has signed a letter of intent with Greenport International Airport and Technology Center near Austin, Texas, to build a vertiport at the facility, which is expected to open in 2024. The airport’s 5,426-acre phase-one development plans will include the company’s modular terminal building and a landing pad with a vehicle-agnostic charging station.

The vertiport developer also recently announced a partnership with Korean tech start-up Weflo to bring automated maintenance solutions to its vertiport offerings. Weflo is developing an MRO platform it calls a “Verti-pit," which uses a suite of sensors and artificial intelligence to detect, diagnose, and predict maintenance issues on an eVTOL aircraft or drone that is parked at a vertiport. Volatus Infrastructure plans to use Weflo's sensor technology to streamline the maintenance and operations of aircraft at the company’s vertiports.

‘Flying Car’ Receives FAA Special Airworthiness Certification

The FAA has given a “flying car” developer the green light to begin flight testing. California-based Alef Aeronautics recently announced that a prototype of its electric drive-and-fly vehicle has received a special airworthiness certificate that gives the company permission to fly it for research and development purposes.

Alef’s vehicle is designed to operate on roads and in the air, and it can take off and land vertically like a helicopter with eight propellers built into the frame. The company is already accepting deposits for the $300,000 eVTOL vehicle, which it plans to begin delivering to customers in 2025.

Alef Aeronautics' flying car is pictured on display during its grand unveiling in October 2022.
Alef Aeronautics unveiled its flying car design in October 2022. (Photo: Alef Aeronautics)

Global Flying Car Market Could Exceed $17 Billion by 2030

A new market research report published by DataIntelo projects that the global market for drive-and-fly vehicles, or “flying cars,” could surpass $17.84 billion by 2030. So far, no such vehicle has been certified for consumer use, but several companies are already testing prototypes both on the ground and in the air.

Meanwhile, the global market for urban air mobility (i.e., air taxis) is expected to reach $28.5 billion by 2030, according to a separate market research study published this week. The researchers forecast a compound annual growth rate of 33.5 percent from 2023 to 2030 for the UAM market. For comparison, the DataIntelo study projected a CAGR of 25.1 percent for the flying car market.

Skyports and Node4 Join Forces to Develop Digital Infrastructure For Vertiports

Operations by new eVTOL aircraft in and out of vertiports will require a sophisticated IT infrastructure, and this challenge has prompted Skyports to commission a company called Node4 to develop the purpose-built network components and data analytics its facilities will need. Under a new agreement between the companies, Node4, which describes itself as a cloud-led digital transformation managed service provider, will build a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) that Skyports can use to manage operations at vertiports worldwide.

The partners said that the first UK site could go live later this year, with other vertiports in the U.S.; Dubai, UAE; and France to follow. According to Skyports, using an SD-WAN will make it quicker to deploy vertiports while also centralizing and streamlining remote operations.

Connova Selected to Provide Composite Airframe For Dufour’s Aero2 Aircraft

Dufour Aerospace has appointed Connova as the main supplier for the composite airframe of its Aero2 uncrewed tiltwing aircraft. The main subassemblies—including the wing, fuselage, and engine bay—for the eVTOL vehicle, which will mainly be used for cargo operations, will be manufactured at Connova’s facility in Villmergen, Switzerland.

Announcing the agreement, the partners said it will cover an initial four airframes with the scope to expand it significantly in 2024 as anticipated deliveries of the Aero2 increase. Switzerland-based Dufour is also working on a larger, piloted eVTOL aircraft called the Aero3.

A digital rendering of Dufour's Aero2 aircraft in flight
Following the completion of the preliminary design review for the Aero 2, Dufour released this digital rendering of the aircraft's final design. The company is now working toward the completion of the critical design review but does not expect significant changes to the airframe or other structures. (Image: Dufour Aerospace)