Ferrovial Airports plans to design, build and operate more than 20 vertiports across the multinational’s home country of Spain to enable a green transportation network that leverages eVTOL aircraft — if the company receives economic assistance from the European Union for the project, that is.
“The project’s financial viability hinges on access to the European Recovery Funds, for which it has already initiated the necessary procedures by submitting replies to the Expressions of Interest at the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Ecological Transition,” the company stated in a press release.
The European Recovery Fund is a stimulus package approved by Brussels to inject up to €800 billion into European economies that continue to suffer from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Around €140 billion in grants and loans have been earmarked for Spain, one of the larger recipients of stimulus funds, but the disbursement of that money and project approvals have not yet been determined.
Ferrovial intends to work with Spanish big data company DatActionS to estimate user demand and determine optimal vertiport locations, also enlisting architecture and engineering consulting firm IDOM to design infrastructure adapted to personal transportation using electric aircraft. Ferrovial’s airports division operates more than 30 airports worldwide, including a 25 percent stake in London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR).
Last month, Ferrovial announced an agreement with German eVTOL developer Lilium to build a network of 10+ vertiports in “strategic locations in all major cities across Florida,” a deal that followed more than two years of discussions between the companies. The first location in southern Florida is expected to be announced this spring.
“At Ferrovial Airports we are committed to providing new sustainable mobility alternatives that will enable us to decongest intercity traffic and offer a fast, comfortable passenger experience,” said Jorge Gil, chief executive of Ferrovial Airports.
If funded, the vertiport projects would aim to be 100 percent sustainable and include parking and charging for both eVTOLs and terrestrial electric vehicles. Ferrovial’s stated goals are to reduce car trips, road congestion and carbon emissions.
“To implement the project, Ferrovial Airports wants to have the support of Europe’s leading eVTOL developers, such as Airbus, Lilium and Tecnalia, the latter a Spanish company,” the company stated.
Though Airbus is not currently developing an eVTOL for commercial use, the company’s Vahana and CityAirbus technology demonstrator projects signal keen interest and capacity to move into the market in the years to come — perhaps after European startups like Lilium and Volocopter have worked with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to finalize a regulatory approach that the major airframer can then design to.
Urban air mobility is one of four disruptive technologies Ferrovial concluded it needed to anticipate and plan for, along with hyperloop, urban logistics and connected autonomous vehicles.
“Vertiports represent a major step forward in achieving sustainable infrastructures for air mobility in the immediate future,” said Gonzalo Velasco, head of innovation at Ferrovial Airports. “Spain is well placed to be at the forefront of electric mobility and has the market potential to achieve it.”