Skyports new Head of Americas, Addison Ferrell, discusses Skyports role in the advanced air mobility (AAM) ecosystem, the developments that we can expect to see in the Americas over the coming years, and why the AAM space has been very active in capital markets in recent months……
What role does Skyports play in the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) ecosystem?
Like all transportation and logistics networks, AAM operates as a complex ecosystem of different players. In addition to vehicle manufacturers, the ecosystem needs transport service providers, air traffic management, maintenance and repair specialists, ancillary services, regulators, and infrastructure.
This is where Skyports comes in. We develop and operate the vertiport infrastructure to enable vehicles to take off, land, refuel, prepare for flight, and manage passengers. We locate, design, and develop the physical spaces for all of this to occur, as well as the technology to link together various parts of the ecosystem, such as vehicle battery charging.
In addition, our drone delivery service transports cargo and proves the viability of technologies which will be essential to the wider AAM market. We target high-value use cases for drones, such as medical goods transportion to and from remote locations. Working with a number of drone OEM partners, we focus on providing operational excellence and developing the enabling technology required to run an exceptional deliveries business.
The AAM space has been very active in capital markets in recent months. What do you think is driving this?
First of all, there are long-term trends that support the AAM use case. Urbanization continues to bring a greater number and proportion of people to cities, where they encounter transportation infrastructure that is stretched to capacity. Traffic jams, longer commutes, and hazardous air pollution are the unfortunate consequences. Using conventional approaches to expand infrastructure capacity and access is often prohibitively expensive. For example, it costs over $60M to add one mile of highway lane in urban areas in the US. Thus, breakthrough approaches like AAM are needed to address the problem.
Second, there have been technology advances that make AAM feasible, safe, and cost-effective. The primary drivers are increases in battery power density, better lightweight materials, and advances in sensors and controls. While these have always been important technologies for aerospace, they have received much greater attention and investment in recent years as the auto industry has rapidly scaled up electric vehicle development. As a result, performance increased, cost decreased, and new AAM-friendly aircraft architectures emerged.
Finally, there are broader market conditions that have driven investment. In addition to low interest rates and government stimulus, the popularity of SPACs has increased investment in growing startups. The AAM industry as a whole is relatively young, so it has benefitted from these conditions.
How do you foresee Skyports encouraging the adoption of AAM in the Americas?
Customers require a safe, enjoyable, and cost-effective experience in order to accept AAM as a viable alternative for their transportation needs. We believe that infrastructure plays a critical role in achieving those goals.
In the Americas, as in the rest of the world, Skyports is developing the locations and processes that will be a critical element of the overall experience – customers will engage directly with Skyports when boarding, disembarking, and processing through the vertiport facilities. We’re also demonstrating our capabilities via the safe, cost-effective and efficient operation of cargo transport drone deliveries. Through these activities, we’re earning customers’ trust, proving that we are an essential part of the adoption of the AAM industry as a whole.
What is next for Skyports in the Americas?
We are currently developing operational vertiports in Singapore and Paris, and we hope to do the same soon in this region. We have deep relationships with many partners in the Americas, which will enable us to deploy our vertiport design, regulatory knowledge, and operational expertise to secure vertiport sites and commence drone deliveries in the near future. We can’t wait to keep you posted on the exciting developments in store for 2021 and beyond!
Lastly, please tell us more about yourself and how you plan to grow the Skyports business in the Americas.
When not at work, I enjoy spending time with my wife and four young daughters. We love going on family adventures, whether trying new ski resorts around the US or traipsing around New England attempting to identify birds. At home, you can almost always find someone reading, eating a baked good, or doing a crossword puzzle.
I have always had an appreciation for the beauty and the challenge of flight, from learning about the Wright brothers as a young boy to beginning my career as an engineer in the aerospace industry. I consider it a privilege to be part of advancing the future of flight, and I look forward to working closely with the many other partners striving to make AAM a reality. We are always looking for new partners to collaborate with, as well as passionate, talented individuals to join our team.