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“Just six of the world’s 113 UAM/AAM city programmes prioritise air ambulance services”

In the first six weeks of 2023, 14 cities and regions around the world launched new and eVTOL and/or advanced air mobility (AAM) programmes, while seven countries and cities updated their urban/advanced air mobility plans with new partners and services, according to the latest update to the Global Air Mobility Market Map database of programmes.

This means there are now 113 cities and regions with eVTOL/AAM services in development around the world, in 55 countries. In terms of numbers, the USA has the most number of eVTOL/AAM city/state based programmes under development. But numbers alone do not tell the whole story – Brazil (4) and Canada (4), France (3) and South Korea (2) in terms of programme maturity are all in the first division of UAM/AAM industry commercialisation. Dubai, Osaka and Singapore have the highest concentration of planned vertiports of any cities in the world.

Country eVTOL/AAM city/region-based programmes
USA 32
Germany 18
Spain 8
Italy 8
China 7
Japan 7
Australia 6

What is surprising, and somewhat disappointing, is that relatively few cities who are pioneering UAM services with air ambulance programmes. Sydney (Australia), Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Shandong (China), Tel Aviv, (Israel), Toronto (Canada) and Estonia’s LifeSaver programme are exceptions – here, air ambulance operations are one of the key drivers. Although city programmes elsewhere also have provision for air ambulances they are not the prime service area.

Most of these cities and regions plan to launch UAM/AAM services within the next five years.

“But of these, only Rio de Janeiro, Brisbane, Hong Kong, Singapore, Paris, Montreal and Vancouver have fully developed UAM/AAM eco-systems which include UTM partners and ground services,” says the Global Air Mobility Market Map editor Philip Butterworth-Hayes, “while a second wave of cities – Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice, Dubai, Osaka and Tokyo have nearly completed the complement of industry partnerships needed for scalable commercial services.”

“We are now in the third wave of new UAM programme announcements,” says Philip Butterworth-Hayes. “In the first wave we saw new city and route programmes launched by vehicle manufacturers. Then, towards the end of 2022, infrastructure providers began to announce their developments. In the first few weeks of 2023 it is airports who are leading the way, with many announcing vertiports or AAM regional hubs in their strategic planning. In Europe, hydrogen hubs have been announced in Birmingham and Stuttgart while in North America, Monterrey (Mexico), Bellefonte (Pennsylvania) and Lincoln (Nebraska) are all pioneering UAM and AAM services in their regions. There is growing evidence that for many regional airports AAM business offers the opportunity for a serious revival of fortunes. This has been the theory for some time but there is now clear evidence of serious investment by all sectors of the AAM industry into these mini-hubs across the world, especially in Europe and the USA, where regional airports are now major business drivers.”

A good example of this is Denmark’s Odense Airport, where a combination of local authority leadership, regional airport entrepreneurism and aircraft operator enthusiasm will see the airport become one of the UAM/AAM operational hubs in Europe.

In May 2022 Odense Municipality announced it was targeting future green mobility solutions at Hans Christian Andersen Airport (HCAA). According to a report from the local authority’s economics committee: “It is the Mayor’s Administration’s assessment that the airport faces a unique opportunity to become an epicenter in Denmark and (Northern) Europe for the use, testing and development of drones for passenger transport… the Mayor’s Administration is now uncovering the potential for urban air mobility (UAM) and vertiports (landing facilities for personal drones) in more detail – in order to be able to position Odense Municipality and Hans Christian Andersen Airport as visionary players in drone mobility in the long term. On the basis of the above, the mayor’s administration has set up a fast-working working group, which in future will facilitate a focused and short-term cover-up effort, which will uncover the potential and prepare a business case, a project plan, defined milestones and a draft budget.

“The working group works on the basis of the attached memorandum of the case, and consists of Odense Municipality and relevant actors, who must jointly prepare solutions to the above objectives. In this connection, the focus will be particularly on the establishment of a Danish/Finnish solution for personal drone mobility in the context of future infrastructure.”

As a result of this, a new partnership between HCA Airport and Copenhagen Helicopter was announced in February 2023 the “first in Denmark to build an infrastructure for electrically-powered flying taxis to ferry people between the country’s largest cities” according to UAS Denmark Test Center.

In statement of the company’s website it says “The aim is to showcase the first flying taxi by summer 2023, and in the slightly longer term the goal is to establish one or more landing sites, so-called vertipads or vertiports, in Odense – initially on top of Odense Station.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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