As the world leader in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) ground infrastructure, at Skyports we’re continuously pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation to develop the best-in-class technical solution that will ensure safety and operational efficiency of our vertiports (the take-off and landing sites for electric air taxis). Technology is central to the design, development and operation of our vertiports; it really is at the core of everything we’re developing.

Technology is such a broad phrase, it can mean anything from hardware and software solutions, programmes and digital systems, through to the entire technical eco-system. But for Skyports, when we talk about the technology we’re developing, we’re referring to sophisticated APIs (application programming interface) and messaging systems that will enable ‘smart slot booking,’ which will  allow us to digitise the operations of our vertiports to create operational efficiencies, manage resource, schedule flights and allow secure data exchange and management. The real key for us is to ensure our system is capable of seamless data integration with OEMs (vehicle manufacturers) and fleet operators: the data solutions we are building into the system will be fundamental to the accurate predictive modelling of activity at our vertiports.

How is Skyports leading the industry?

This is a new industry and we’re learning through everything we do, every day. At Skyports our technical expertise is world-class and the best in the industry. I don’t say that because of any bias, but we have strategically hand-picked our technology team to ensure we can successfully bring all the tech development in-house, developing solutions and creating efficiencies that will help us accelerate deployment of operational vertiports.

As the Chief Technology Officer, I’m focused on developing my team and our technical excellence through agility and by cultivating an environment that encourages innovation and a desire to push the boundaries that enable us to explore novel solutions for advanced air mobility challenges, allowing us to develop and implement better software and technical solutions faster. This backdrop, blended with our creative people, puts Skyports in the optimal position to lead on creating the physical and digital ecosystem for this emerging industry – this is not something we’re doing in isolation – we’re working in lock-step with our partners, leading eVTOL vehicle manufacturers and the broader stakeholder community to develop future proof software architectures. Clearly there are some complex challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the industry is able to commercialise in the next few years. And unless companies like ours take the lead in providing solutions, the industry could struggle to take off.

Challenges

Playing a leading role in building a complex technology ecosystem for AAM comes with its own set of technical challenges. One of the most fundamental challenges is to ensure standardisation (from a technology perspective) across the industry. This will provide the foundation for operational efficiency, whilst enabling seamless data exchange between a vertiport and  fleet operator in a secure format and in adherence to robust protocols – this is just one example of the challenges my team is working to resolve.

There’s nothing more exciting than technological pioneering that is set to pave the way for a brand-new industry. At Skyports we are at the forefront of developing and implementing end-to-end technical solutions. There are many areas where technology will be central to integrating services at vertiports, for example vehicle charging facilities.

Our technology focus

Our technology development is focused on building APIs which will enable easy and secure data sharing between Skyports and its partners, to ensure a safe and positive passenger experience. We’re designing our technology from the ground up, ensuring that operations are integrated (through data) from the moment a passenger books their flight through to check-in, security, boarding and during the flight itself – everything needs to be connected through a digital thread, and we can only achieve this by developing an industry agnostic digital backbone that will act as a centralised data store with robust data exchange protocols in place.

We’re focusing a lot on data as we develop our technical solution as it’s one of the biggest challenges for AAM. The industry needs a truly connected model which aggregates all of the data in one place. We’re also applying machine learning models to our Vertiport Management System to create a smart schedule model which will be driven by artificial intelligence, providing optimisation opportunities for a scalable network of vertiports.

What’s next?

Through the technology development phase we’ll be executing rigorous testing, not only via simulation testing, but through real-life technology testing too, which is why we’ve partnered with Groupe ADP, owner and operator of the Cergy-Pontoise Airfield in Paris to design and build Europe’s first vertiport technology testbed, which was launched last week at an event in Paris. This test vertiport will provide us with a safe and realistic environment in which we will be able to integrate and test the critical technologies required to enable advanced air mobility in Europe – this is a significant step towards launching commercial services in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

These are exciting times for Skyports and the industry as a whole. I’m really excited about growing and implementing our technology solution and building the digital ecosystem needed for safe and efficient operations of vertiports.