Wisk Aero, the Bay-Area California based Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) company, is partnering with Skyports to integrate autonomous, electric, vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft operations at vertiports and other ground-based infrastructure. The partnership marks a significant milestone as a collaboration between a vertiport developer-operator and an autonomous eVTOL developer in the U.S.
While AAM services will initially launch with piloted vehicles, Wisk, Skyports, and the broader industry recognize that autonomy is the key to unlocking the scalability, accessibility, and affordability needed to realize the full potential and total addressable market of AAM. Wisk and Skyports are defining autonomous eVTOL vertiport operations in order to ensure that vertiports and other ground-based infrastructure will be capable of supporting the autonomous operations needed for long-term success.
The partnership is evaluating core areas, including physical aircraft considerations (functions, capabilities, requirements, interfaces, and support), passenger accommodation, schedule management, ground operations management, final approach and takeoff management, navigational aids, situational awareness, contingency management, and airspace design.
The partnership has released a first-of-its-kind Concept of Operations (ConOps), which identifies how autonomous eVTOL aircraft and operators will integrate with vertiports, including interactions with Providers of Services for UAM (PSUs). The ConOps outlines the upgrades, retrofits, and procedure changes that will be required to accommodate safe operations for autonomous eVTOL aircraft. It also defines the journey of an autonomous eVTOL aircraft and its relationship to UAM-specific, aircraft-agnostic infrastructure and the necessary systems and interactions between the aircraft, the aircraft’s fleet operator, and the vertiport.
“We are excited to partner with Skyports, a leader in vertiports and AAM infrastructure,” said Gary Gysin, CEO of Wisk. “It is critical that future operations are autonomous for safety, scalability, and affordability. With this ConOps, Wisk and Skyports are helping to define those future operations while ensuring the long-term success and full potential of this industry.”
“It’s important that infrastructure built today can accommodate the aircraft of tomorrow,” said Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports. “We are thrilled to be partnered with Wisk as they push the bounds of aircraft systems innovation. The ConOps and our continued work on the development of vehicle-agnostic vertiports and ground-based infrastructure will ensure that this industry is well prepared to safely integrate autonomous operations in the future.”
Why it’s important: To date, the AAM industry has been heavily focused on the development of aircraft and associated technology. Today’s announcement and the release of the ConOps highlights the critical importance of evaluating operational considerations for infrastructure and other ecosystem elements as the industry approaches the launch of both piloted and autonomous operations.