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Hanwha Systems partners with airport operator in new UAM project

Top defence contractor Hanwha Systems has partnered with Korea Airport Corporation (KAC) to develop air taxis, and the ensuing infrastructure and services to form a consultative body called Urban Air Mobility Team Korea, reports Aju Business Daily.

The two companies have signed an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) business agreement to develop technologies relating to integrated monitoring, control, navigation, take-off/landing facilities and boarding services. They will also create step-by-step test beds for the demonstration of UAM operations.

While Hanwha develops the airframes for the aircraft, as well as the avionics technology, the infrastructure will be built by KAC, which manages and operates 14 airports. In addition to building landing pads for the air taxis, the company will also help develop a business model.

It follows an earlier announcement by the South Korean Government, which outlined a road map for the commercialisation of drone taxis in 2025 and autonomous flights in 2035. Some 40 companies, research groups and state bodies, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to implement the UAM map.

Hanwha CEO Kim Yeon-chul said the company aims to become a leading solution company in the global UAM market, adding, “We will create a successful UAM business model based on technologies and general experience from both companies.”

In July 2019, Hanwha announced a USD25 million equity investment in K4 Aeronautics, a U.S. personal air vehicle (PAV) developer, followed by the acquisition of a 30 percent stake in Overair, an American eVTOL company.

The US government’s approval for Hanwha to invest in Overair will also accelerate the development of the ‘Butterfly’ personal-air-vehicle (PAV) project. Hanwha Systems will contribute to the Butterfly’s development to maximise the synergy between technology and business.

The all-electric VTOL aircraft leverages low-noise and high-efficiency Optimum Speed Tiltrotor technology and under its current specifications, it can seat four passengers and a pilot and travel up to 240 km/h for more than 100km.

Overair and Hanwha are working together to achieve Butterfly approval as a civilian all-electric air-transport vehicle by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Hanwha is also looking to increase its investment in Overair and explore opportunities in Korea’s domestic market at the same time.

In addition, Hanwha is currently working on optionally-piloted personal-air vehicles (OPPAV) and a Korean multi-governmental agency development project involving the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

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