Sarah Nilsson JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah NilssonJD, PhD, MAS



A National Strategy for Drones Across La[...]
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Surface infrastructure to support aviation is built around the aircraft currently in the airspace, predominantly airplanes and helicopters.

The majority of journeys are intercity trips of distances longer than what is convenient via automobile. Today’s air transportation mobility system is physically partitioned from other modes of transport, with passengers passing into and out of this system through highly controlled structures at airports and with the air-side of the infrastructure thoroughly segmented away from all external factors.

Likewise, the route structure, navigation aids, and approach and departure procedures are designed with today’s aircraft and travel patterns as assumptions. For example, airways and terminal approach procedures are designed for longer routes and do not support or envision short urban flights.

Instrument routes for flights in inclement weather send aircraft on long roundabout routes and often require higher minimum altitudes than would be usable or practical for AAM vehicles on short urban trips.


AAM, with its vehicle types ranging from small parcel delivery drones to larger cargo and passenger vehicles and with its different and varying movement patterns, presents significant changes to the types of infrastructure that will support it.

More ground locations may be served using AAM systems than with airports today.

These ground locations will be smaller and far more numerous than airports and will necessarily be more seamlessly combined with other transportation modes and in closer proximity to the general public, less able to partition and segment.

Yet today’s airports may see increased activity and undergo changes to optimize around new AAM traffic flows.

Trip distances, routes, and altitudes will likely vary significantly from aviation today.

Among the many configurations to explore for various applications, a common aspect is that a scalable system will be dependent on design and standards for ground infrastructure (e.g., vertiport design and spacing) and the ways that infrastructure connects and interfaces with the rest of the NAS.



UAM Ecosystem: The entire range of stakeholders relevant for the successful planning, integration, and operation of UAM at a particular location and/or region.


 As UAM "takes off", stakeholders throughout the aviation and transportation ecosystems will need to work together to ensure that the promise of UAM is realized in a way that prioritizes safety and responsible integration of aviation into the rest of our daily transportation and community landscapes.


Physical Infrastructure

Regarding physical infrastructure, tops of parking garages, existing aerodromes and heliports, and even unused land surrounding highway interchanges could form the basis of a distributed network of dedicated operating sites.

As the concept for these facilities mature, it will be necessary for decision makers to plan for the efficient integration of such operating sites within urban ecosystems.

In particular, seamless transitions from one transportation mode to another will be required to achieve transport efficiencies and meet changing passenger demands.

Among several policy questions which will need to be addressed in the medium term will be the identification, allocation and recovery of costs for the development and deployment of said infrastructure.


Heliports: Landing site or airport designed to support take-off and landing operations, including taxiing, and parking for eVTOL aircraft, AAVs, helicopters, and other small aircraft.


Metropolitan area: Populated region with a high-density core (city) and lower density peripheral region (suburbs, rural areas). 


Smart Cities: Cities in which current networks and services improve their efficiency with digital, information, and communication technologies. This includes smarter mobility and transport networks, a more efficient energy distribution, upgraded water supply, and waste disposal facilities to reduce emission and improve quality of life of their inhabitants and businesses.


Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs): Strategic plan designed to improve quality of life in cities by satisfying mobility needs of their inhabitants, businesses, and their environment through the implementation of sustainable mobility and transport solutions.


Transportation planning: Process of defining and managing various issues related to the establishment and development of transportation systems of cities, countries, and regions.


Vertiport: VTOL hubs, or landing sites or airports, with multiple takeoff and landing pads, as well as charging infrastructure, and taxiing and parking space.


Vertistop: a single VTOL pad with minimal infrastructure


UAM Zoning: Decision making process aiming at the 3D urban space use definition for particular area and/or region in the planning process.


Urban Development: The construction on land of improvements for residential, institutional, commercial, industrial, transportation, public flood control, and recreational and similar uses, in contrast to use of the land for growing crops, truck gardening (area where vegetables are raised for market), grazing of farm animals, and other agricultural pursuits.


Urban Planning: Technical and political process focused on the spatial, construction, infrastructural, and functional design and development process management in organized inhabited spatial units and/or areas.


VTOL Take-off and Landing Area (TOLA): Suitable on- and off- airfield take-off and landing site for VTOL aircraft.


The initial UAM ecosystem will use existing helicopter infrastructure such as routes, helipads, and ATC services, where practicable given the aircraft characteristics. Looking toward the future, the FAA is working to identify infrastructure design needs for these aircraft. FAA expects to develop a new vertiport standard in the coming years.

On March 2, 2022, the FAA issued draft interim guidance, via Engineering Brief, to support the design and operation of facilities that eVTOL aircraft will use for initial operations.


Learn more about vertiport design

Read the Federal Register notice


FAA Engineering Brief No. 105_Vertiport [...]
Adobe Acrobat document [2.7 MB]

Feb 2023 - HCA Airport and Copenhagen Helicopter partner on vertiport development in Denmark

Feb 2023 - SkyDrive to participate in Smart Mobility Expo project at 2025 World Expo in Osaka, Japan


March 2023 - Altaport announces new team to automate eVTOL/drone vertiport operations

March 2023 - Eve partners with Ferrovial Vertiports to explore urban air traffic management

April 2023 - 1st operational European urban vertiport to be built in Zaragoza

April 2023 - Altaport and Partners Prepare for Vertiport Automation

May 2023 - Helicopter Institute executes agreement with Dallas CBD Vertiport

May 2023 - Vertiport site-suitability analysis aims to aid planners





Feb 2023 - Siemens and Skyway join forces to develop Vertiport infrastructure

April 2023 - Skyway, Skyportz collaborate on Australian UAM

April 2023 - Skyway and Skyportz announce strategic collaboration

April 2023 - Skyway and Skyportz Announce Strategic Partnership for Aerial Mobility Infrastructure in Australia




Skyports is the leading provider of infrastructure for the AAM industry

- Founded in 2018, Skyports is an AAM company developing and operating landing infrastructure for the electric air taxi revolution, as well as using drones for a variety of business requirements.

- Skyports Infrastructure plays a critical role in the UAM ecosystem; designing, building, owning, and operating vertiports that enable eVTOL operators to take off and land in and around cities across the world.

- Skyports Drone Services uses drone technology to enable businesses to develop their logistics, capture key data, and improve operational efficiency. They are active in the rural deliveries, survey, surveillance and maritime verticals.

- They are proud to have a diverse and talented team based around the world with expertise ranging from technology, airspace, engineering, real estate, operations and consulting.


Feb 2023 - Skyports Infrastructure’s vertiport design approved for development in Dubai

Skyports Infrastructure, the leading provider of vertiport infrastructure for the advanced air mobility (AAM) industry, has had its vertiport design approved for development by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, of Dubai, at the World Government Summit 2023.


Feb 2023 - Skyports Vertiport Design Approved for Dubai Usage

Feb 2023 - Skyports Drone Services strengthens presence in Korea

April 2023 - Foster + Partners, Skyports show preliminary design of Dubai vertiport

April 2023 - Skyports sees ship-to-shore drone deliveries as model for AAM integration into airports

April 2023 - Skyports drone services introduces cash-to-master deliveries



Based in Osaka, Japan, they are headquartered at the epicenter of the Air Mobility markets in Japan. Their understanding of both the Japanese market and markets abroad make for a seamless experience for their clients. 


Feb 2023 - SkyScape to develop vertiports for eVTOL operations in Japan

SKYSCAPE Co., Ltd., a Japanese Vertiport Development and Management Company (VDMC), has signed an MOU with Bayards, a Dutch company that specializes in the engineering and designing of tailored aluminium structures and helicopter/evtol landing platforms worldwide, and SafeHub Systems out of the US, which develops mobile passenger check-in terminals, to jointly develop the first generation of SKYSCAPE vertiports in Japan.

The exclusive agreement will see the three groups work together to manufacture and develop the physical Vertiport facility to be deployed at various locations in Japan within the SkyScape network.





May 2022 - Building vertiports without final regulations in place

March 2022: EASA Publishes Design Specifications for Vertiports


EASA Vertiport Guidance.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [7.9 MB]





Oct 2022 - 


Italy’s First Vertiport Deployed at Fiumicino Airport







Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), Atlantia, UrbanV, and the pioneer of UAM, Volocopter, have successfully completed the first crewed eVTOL test flights in Italian airspace. These tests were part of a mobility ecosystem setup at Fiumicino’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.

This is a key milestone toward the envisioned rollout of (AAM services in Rome by 2024, with the partners having initiated operations of the first fully functional vertiport in Italy. 



Dec 2022 - 

UAE Ready to Adapt Advanced air mobility (AAM) , General Civil Aviation Authority Published  the World’s First National Regulation Related to Vertiports



In a  $40 million deal, advanced air mobility (AAM) infra developer, VPorts, is commited to establish the world’s first AAM integrator world center in Dubai, the commercial and tourism hub of the United Arab Emirates.

Aiming Construction work next year, the one of a kind partnership has been inked between VPorts, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), and Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH), with operations commencing in 2024. 

The initial investment of $40 million over three years is expected to give Dubai and the UAE a world-class global AAM hub which will include dedicated flight-testing airspace, assigned blocked airspace, and new tech designed to foster the global growth of the international AAM market. 

VPorts has also signed a 25-year exclusive lease agreement with MBRAH, renewable for a further 25 years, to establish the new AAM center on a 37,000 square meter site within Dubai South.




Nov 21 - 


Skyports Will Build and Operate the First Test Vertiport in Europe






After recently announcing its intentions to create take-off and landing sites for electric air taxis in the United States, vertiport developer and operator Skyports landed another huge deal. The company was chosen to build the first test vertiport in Europe.

The vertiport will be located at a small airfield in Cergy-Pontoise, which is northwest of Paris, in France. Skyports will be in charge of designing it, building it, and operating it. It will have a modular design, allowing Skyports to easily relocate it after the trial period in Cergy-Pontoise ends.

Envisioned as a high-tech facility, the vertiport will be equipped with biometric identity management, recharging equipment, weather stations, to name just a few of its features. This advanced technology is at the core of Skyports’ vertiport design, ensuring both its operational efficiency and safety.

The purpose of the vertiport will be to serve as a testing platform for eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) manufacturers such as Volocopter, Airbus, Vertical Aerospace, and others. They will all be able to conduct test flights and demonstrations of their 
aircraft over the next three years. The final goal is the launch of the next-generation urban air transport, just in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, which should take place in Paris.

Skyports has been on a roll lately as it also signed a partnership with LAZ Parking recently, with the latter being one of the largest parking companies in the United States. The two plan to deploy vertiports throughout Los Angeles, providing L.A. residents as well as visitors with a cleaner transportation alternative.

It was also Skyports that launched the first vertiport in the world back in 2019, which was located in Marina Bay, Singapore. It was a full-scale passenger air taxi vertiport prototype developed in collaboration with German aircraft manufacturer Volocopter, and it was on display for five days. More than 8,000 visitors had the chance to experience its technologies and even admire 
Volocopter’s 2X eVTOL multicopter.

Construction of new heliports, vertiports, or other ground infrastructure will be costly and complex due to a lack of clarity in regulatory requirements for public facilities.

There are tens of thousands of underutilized airports and large tracts of abandoned real estate throughout the country that could be converted for use by service providers.

Although many new air mobility vehicles do not require runways, they can benefit from zoning, infrastructure, and airspace regulations that already exist at these airports and heliports.


Infrastructure enabling a UAM system will include vertiports, vehicle hangar and maintenance areas, and associated recharging/refueling infrastructure.

A vertiport is a facility for allowing takeoff and landing of vertical aircraft.

Because many of the aircraft that are currently envisioned may not have people onboard, are smaller than most helicopters, and may only carry small amounts of cargo, they may not be as large and structurally robust as heliports, although they may place other demands on infrastructure such as the requirement for electric recharging.

A robust UAM system would have a multitude of vertiports serving a metropolitan area; hence, UAM infrastructure will necessarily be distributed rather than centralized.

Public-private partnership arrangements could be used to enable growth of distributed UAM infrastructure in a metropolitan area, while enabling this infrastructure to be a common carrier for different types of vehicles from different firms.

This would enable competition and innovation in the UAM system.



Infrastructure plays a key role in AAM deployments.

The diverse new applications it will spawn mean new infrastructure—in some cases, infrastructure specific to the application. This infrastructure in many cases will be embedded with technology and connected into networks. This requires standards and partnerships with the private sector, as well as coordination across federal, state, and local bodies to ensure uniformity of regulation. Current standards have gaps and will need to be enhanced.



Zoning ordinances, existing infrastructure, noise ordinances, and other environmental factors (e.g., trees, waterways, prevailing wind patterns) constrain UAM aerodrome locations and siting, and the types and quantities of aircraft that can operate from a UAM aerodrome.

Additionally, UAM aerodromes have accessto local utilities to accommodate demandsfor critical resources, including electrical grids, power, internet connectivity, and public accessibility.

These demands further constrain feasible and viable UAM aerodrome locations and/or lead to changes in the local utility infrastructure to support UAM aerodromes.

State and local regulatory authorities ensure that UAM aerodromes are designed and built in compliance with adopted required codes, such as following building and fire codes.


With the proliferation of eVTOL and hVTOL aircraft use in UAM, operations at UML -4 place a significant demand on the utilities, including the energy infrastructure, of urban areas.

Fleet operators and/or UAM aerodromes operators coordinate with municipalities and utility companies to ensure sufficient power is available for aircraft changing operations, and, although historically not provided by utility companies, coordinate with fuel suppliers (which could be utility companies) to ensure fuel is available at UAM aerodromes utilized by hVTOL aircraft.

Innovative partnership models between UAM aerodrome operators, fleet operators, and utility companies have developed to offer benefits that extend beyond UAM, such as satisfying energy needs in other areas, (e.g., automobile charging stations) and incorporate alternative energy sources (e.g., solar/wind power collectors to both diversify the grid but to increase its resilience).

Municipalities, operators, and utility companies cooperatively determine how much infrastructure investment is required to sustain a UAM market and will decide who bears the costs of improvements. 

In addition to electricity, at UML -4, it is assumed that other standard utilities (such as water, sewer, internet) are available at UAM aerodromes.



UAM Aerodromes at UML-4 are integrated with the existing infrastructure and, in many cases, required buildout of additional infrastructure.

UAM aerodrome operators continue to build upon the effective relationships established at earlier UMLs to create appropriate infrastructure by both modifying existing structures and developing new, purpose-built structures.

UAM aircraft utilize both preexisting UAMaerodromes (e.g., heliports, small airports) as well as UAM aerodromes that were specifically built for UAM purposes.

UAM aerodromes may be publicly available to all, limited to one fleet operator or several specific fleet operators only, or limited to aircraft that meet certain performance standards.

The nature of each depends on several factors, including ownership, business case, recharging/refueling infrastructure, consumer demand, type of operations at the UAM aerodrome, and airspace complexity. Passenger demand is a critical factor for determining suitable UAM aerodrome locations and influences infrastructure requirements.

UAM aerodromes have been designed and built with scalability in mind for each location suited for the communities they serve.

Collaboration with municipalities during development ensures community concerns are addressed, and communities are able to effectively control growth of the UAM market via local policies such as zoning regulations and noise ordinances.


Wise UAM aerodrome placement creates opportunities to integrate UAM into other systems and technologies, such as public transportation (e.g., light rail), sharing economy modes (e.g., bike-sharing), or private modes (e.g., personal car).

Strategic placement also prevents overloading the capacity of the other modes to which UAM connects. For example, placing a UAM aerodrome in an already overcrowded intersection with no additional space for passenger pickup/drop-off would create additional traffic congestion, which would hinder the potential time savings of the UAM mode, and should therefore be avoided.

Strategic UAM aerodrome placement can also enable other infrastructure to provide mutual support for UAM and other transportation options, such as parking garages that can serve both a light rail station and co-located with a UAM aerodrome.


UAM is a popular mode of transporting people to larger airports, so some UAM aerodromes may be outfitted with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security so that passengers can be cleared for boarding their flight prior to reaching the airport.



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