Air taxi prototypes are proliferating, but where will they be able to take off and land when they are commercialized on a large scale? VPorts, which dreams of a network of vertiports, hopes to convince Quebec to fund it with up to 350 million – a request the Montreal-based company is trying to soften.
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Nine months after its inception, the company admits that its project raises many questions, President and CEO Fethi Chebil explains in an interview The press. The financial requests are adjusted to the size of the network, assures the former member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
“There are not many companies in this market worldwide,” says Chebil. We are in the process of conducting studies to determine where we could do this [installer] the vertiports. »
VPorts encrypted its requests because it just registered with the Quebec Lobbyists Registry. These are divided into two parts: a first of 50 million for the implementation of everything that will ensure the operation of the network, and another of 300 million for the development of places that will accommodate possible electric VTOLs (eVTOL).
Many questions are still unanswered. How many locations will be developed? Would they be in the major urban centers or outside? Mr Chebil did not have the details on Monday.
take this number [300 millions] with a grain of salt. We think we need 50 vertiports in Quebec. It is estimated between 4 and 6 million per [site]. Does the money come from the state or from the cities? We do not know.
Fethi Chebil, President and CEO of VPorts
The young shoot is also establishing itself elsewhere. In Brazil, the company will construct an approximately 55,000 square foot (5,100 square meter) building at São Paulo International Airport before operating for 40 years. The site, which will open in late 2023, will house a vertiport.
Chebil says adding VPorts to the registry is a step to “start talking to governments and answering questions.”
It’s difficult to say whether such a project should receive public funding, admits Mehran Ebrahimi, professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and director of the Observatory of Aeronautics and Civil Aviation. The question is “relevant,” says the expert.
“If we expect it to bring something back in two years, it’s a fantasy,” he says. But if Quebec allows itself to be positioned in a global movement that is taking shape, it could prove relevant. Of course we don’t have all the answers yet. »
As per its registration on the registry, VPorts is targeting 14 communities – including Montreal, Quebec, Laval, Longueuil, Sherbrooke – where action is to be taken.
The company wants to build its first Vertiport in the metropolis on its website. On Monday, the city of Montreal did not respond to questions sent by last week The press.
“Yes, there are concerns from the population and that’s normal, we don’t know that,” says the company boss. We’ve never seen an airplane fly. It is our job to explain and enlighten. »
Many people are concerned about the noise level of electric VTOL aircraft. According to Mr. Chebib, it fluctuates between 50 and 60 decibels. According to the Ministry of Health, a level of 55 decibels is lower than “normal conversation” (60 dB). It goes a little beyond what would be considered an “inconvenience”.
VPorts is not alone in its interest in Vertiports. Vertiko Mobilité, which has partnered with Jaunt Air Mobility, wants to build some as part of an air-to-electric taxi project.
Many projects and questions
The whiz kid niche is attracting a lot of interest, even if it’s not synonymous with success.
The Vertical Flight Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society, has at least 350 companies — ranging from startups to multinationals — looking at more than 700 aircraft concepts through to vertical takeoff. In Quebec, Jaunt Air Mobility plans to assemble them in the northern suburbs of Montreal.
But not tomorrow the day before these devices will receive passengers or transport goods.
They are not yet assembled on a large scale and regulation is pending. According to Mr. Chebib, the portrait on the Vertiport side is less complex because the certification should be similar to that required for a heliport.
- Although it only has about 5 employees, VPorts aims to build 1500 Vertiports worldwide by 2045.