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Hyundai partners with Incheon airport, KT for urban air mobility trials

Hyundai Motor Company is partnering with Incheon International Airport Corp. in Seoul, South Korea — along with Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. and KT Corp. — to pursue urban air mobility (UAM) flight trials, with the goal of commercializing UAM by 2028.

Hyundai SA-1 eVTOL air taxi cabin
An artist’s rendering of the cabin of Hyundai’s SA-1 eVTOL air taxi, which will carry four passengers and a pilot up to 60 miles (100 km). Hyundai Image

Hyundai revealed earlier this year that it is developing a four-passenger eVTOL air taxi called the S-A1. Through a memorandum of understanding signed Sept. 18, Hyundai will continue to develop its UAM business, while Incheon International Airport will study the feasibility of using aircraft like the S-A1 as airport shuttles and work to establish the necessary infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Construction will build the vertiports and transit hubs that will connect UAM to other forms of public transport, and KT will set up the communications infrastructure and promote UAM as a mobility service. Hyundai said that all four parties will share information during the development stage and jointly collaborate on test flights, although its press release announcing the partnership did not provide a timeframe for when those trials might occur.

“The breadth and depth of this partnership shows what it will take to build a comprehensive UAM ecosystem to serve megacities like Seoul,” stated Jaiwon Shin, executive vice president and head of the Urban Air Mobility Division at Hyundai Motor. “Building a robust infrastructure and business model is just as important as developing innovative UAM vehicles.”

Hyundai said the partners plan to align their efforts with the Korean UAM Roadmap announced in June of this year. The roadmap outlines a path for UAM commercialization and includes the Korean UAM Grand Challenge, a public-private joint demonstration project encompassing the study of vertiports — places where UAM aircraft will take off and land.

Hyundai’s fully electric, winged SA-1 eVTOL has a target cruise speed of up to 180 miles per hour (290 kilometers per hour), a projected range of 60 miles (100 km), and a recharging time of five to seven minutes during peak operating hours. It is designed to meet the requirements of Uber’s Elevate initiative, to which Hyundai has signed on as a vehicle partner.

Developers of eVTOL air taxis are increasingly partnering with other businesses, airports, and communities to begin establishing the groundwork for UAM ecosystems. Earlier this month, the German eVTOL developer Lilium announced a collaboration with Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn airports to begin exploring creation of a regional air mobility network. The Chinese eVTOL developer EHang also has extensive partnership agreements within China as well as in Europe, and plans to implement a pilot UAM operation in Linz, Austria, in cooperation with Linz AG.

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