By Ben Forrest

Ben Forrest is an award-winning journalist who has written extensively about aviation. His features have appeared in Skies, Vertical, Vertical Valour and RCAF Today magazines, as well as Sports Illustrated, CBC Sports, Broadview, Sharp, and dozens of other publications in North America and Europe.

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Montreal, Quebec City likely sites for Vertiko Mobility’s Canadian vertiport network

Vertiko Mobility is targeting passenger routes in southern Quebec — including Montreal and Quebec City — for the first phase of a vertiport network scheduled to begin operations in 2026.

Jaunt Journey eVTOL Quebec
Vertiko Mobility has selected Montreal and Quebec City to construct vertiports for urban air mobility operations starting in 2026 using the Jaunt Journey eVTOL aircraft. Jaunt Air Mobility Image

This would establish one of Canada’s first vertiport networks and would initially operate a fleet of 70 Jaunt Journey aircraft with intent to accommodate eVTOLs from all manufacturers.

“It is important to understand that we are not targeting the elite of society, but the masses,” said John Valley, president of Vertiko Mobility, in an email interview with eVTOL.com. “We have already identified areas in and around the city of Montreal that would allow access to the service for a large number of people.”

Vertiko plans to divide Quebec metropolitan areas into micro-districts linked by routes as short as seven kilometers (four miles) — a five-minute flight — and as long as 38 km (24 mi) — a 15-minute flight.

Longer, regional flights linking Montreal and Quebec City with Ottawa, Ontario, and smaller Quebec centers like Val-d’Or, Saguenay, Sherbrooke, Gaspe and Baie-Comeau, are also under consideration.

“We are focusing more on efficient and fast connections between suburbs, regions and city centers,” Valley said. “The majority of vertiports in urban areas will be located on the roofs of mixed-use buildings. Owners and developers of the complexes will own the vertiport on their building and will be able to use it to generate direct benefits for their residential and commercial tenants.”

Vertiport site selection

To reduce the complexity of its first phase of vertiports, Valley said the company is working with major mixed-use real estate projects currently under development, with a construction horizon of 2024 to 2026.

The goal is to integrate vertiport infrastructure into new construction projects, but eventually the company expects to install vertiports on existing buildings.

Valley acknowledged several factors must be studied to make that feasible, and traffic routes will be established in collaboration with authorities like Nav Canada and Transport Canada.

“We are aligning our overall site selection strategy for vertiports with real estate developments that have TOD [transit-oriented development] thinking,” Valley said. “They offer a complete living environment, including services, retail, entertainment, and most importantly, located on a public transit network. These developers are already selecting sites that are strategically interesting for suburban and urban center interactions.”

Valley identified four major criteria for the vertiport site selection process: a population base that needs to travel regularly to an urban center; major concentration of employment or sites of interest, including commercial and entertainment venues; mixed-use buildings that provide a range of services to passengers; and adequate parking for customers who need to access the vertiports by car.

Valley said the company plans to seek funding from various levels of government in the months ahead, but did not acknowledge the receipt of any prior funding.

“The Government of Quebec is particularly active in supporting the entire aviation industry,” he said, “and especially in the transition to its electrification.”

Vertiko Mobility has selected southern Quebec to construct its vertiport network for urban air mobility operations. The company has already mapped out potential routes in its network, which could change based on construction and regulatory approvals. Vertiko Mobility Image

Jaunt Journey as launch partner

Valley cited the fact Jaunt Air Mobility intends to manufacture its four-passenger Journey eVTOL in Quebec as a factor in the purchase agreement for 70 aircraft.

He also listed several other factors, including perceived safety benefits of redundancy in the Journey’s combination of fixed- and rotary-wing technology.

The Jaunt Journey is designed with two wings extending horizontally above the four-passenger cabin, with two propellers mounted near the wingtips.

An additional large, helicopter-style rotor rotates several feet above the wings. The all-electric aircraft is targeting a range of between 80 to 120 miles (130 to 195 kilometers) and a speed of 175 mph (280 km/h). Its hybrid-electric model is expected to fly a range of 200+ miles (320+ kilometers) at the same speed.  

“At this time, we are not in contact with any other eVTOL developer,” Valley said. “However, we are aware that, as a vertiport network, we will have to be able to accommodate all types of eVTOL on our infrastructure. Today we are convinced that Jaunt Air Mobility is the best choice for the development of our network, but in the future, perhaps other developers will succeed in certifying aircraft with superior performance and we will be very open to testing and integrating other aircraft into our fleet.”

Valley said Vertiko Mobility is keeping an eye on three eVTOL aircraft in particular: Joby Aviation’s S4, Beta Technologies’ Alia, and Embraer-backed Eve Air Mobility’s aircraft.

Cargo and medical transport

Vertiko Mobility’s main objective is to transport passengers in urban areas, but Valley acknowledged the company is also considering medical and cargo flights.

He said the company is working on pilot projects for medical and cargo transportation that should run from fall 2022 until the end of 2023.

“Since we are not experts in the logistics and medical environment, we are working with partners who will take over for actual operations starting in 2026, when we will focus on passenger transport,” Valley said. “We will all be able to share the use of the vertiport network together. The pilot projects will allow us to accumulate crucial data on flight safety and flight management. We will also take the opportunity to conduct several focus groups with people who will be put in direct contact with real eVTOL flights in order to collect their views and perceptions.”

The company will initially focus on areas in southern Quebec, but Northern and Indigenous communities could be part of a second or third phase of the vertiport network rollout.

“One of Vertiko Mobility’s shareholders is actively working with some of these communities, and a partnership could be formed fairly quickly,” Valley said.

Vertiko Mobility is still several steps away from launching its network in Quebec, but said it plans to certify its overall vertiport concept in 2024, followed by the start of construction later that year. The target for first flights in the network is the first quarter of 2026.

“This transportation service will complement and not compete with existing and developing public transportation services,” Valley said. “These services are important for environmental impact.”

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