VPorts has initiated the certification process for its vertiports as part of the world’s first Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) integrator centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH) in Dubai South. Construction of the vertiports will start in 2024.

“We are making history today as we are the first infrastructure company in the world to initiate a vertiport certification process,” said Dr Fethi Chebil, CEO and Founder of VPorts. “By adhering to regulations of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), we are taking a proactive approach to ensure all our vertiports meet and exceed industry standards, providing a secure and efficient environment for the operation of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft.”

The certification process, developed by the GCAA, aligns with regulation CAR IX-HVD Part III, which outlines the requirements and guidelines for the certification and operation of onshore vertiports within the UAE. The process will start with the design approval phase; VPorts plans to obtain design approval for the world centre within six months – a key step in the construction phase. The certification of the Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) vertiport will follow shortly.

The need for private and public investors to deliver advanced infrastructure, development, and operations is crucial for the success of AAM. Multiple revenue streams and opportunities will be pursued and leveraged at all stages of development, from project conception to design, development, and long-term implementation.

VPorts’ vertiports are designed as transportation hubs that facilitate the integration of eVTOLs into urban environments and existing transportation ecosystems. They incorporate advanced technologies, such as automated landing systems, smart charging infrastructure and robust safety procedures, to ensure optimal functionality and passenger comfort. Moreover, VPorts’ infrastructures will contribute to reducing traffic congestion, improving accessibility, and promoting sustainable transportation solutions in the bustling city of Dubai.

With the support of MBRAH, VPorts is planning to establish its Vertiport Operation Control Centre (VOCC) as part of the AAM integrator world centre in Dubai. The VOCC will have the capacity to manage air traffic integration and set up communication protocols between eVTOLs, vertiports and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). It will also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate data related to resource management, ensuring efficient and timely decision-making processes for all eVTOLs landing, taking off from, or flying to any vertiport in an eventual global network of locations.

VPorts’ VOCC encompasses a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) crafted to meet GCAA requirements. These SOPs are designed to govern the vertiports’ day-to-day operations. By aligning with the regulatory compliance framework, VPorts ensures that all aspects of its operations, including ground handling, passenger management, maintenance protocols, and emergency procedures, meet the standards set by the GCAA.

In December 2022, VPorts signed an exclusive 25-year lease agreement with MBRAH, renewable for a further 25 years, to establish the AAM centre on a 37,000-square-metre site in Dubai South. The project, which represents an initial investment of $40 million over three years, is expected to generate direct revenues of US$7 billion in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, combined, over the next 25 years and create 1,500 direct high-quality jobs.

The project includes a dedicated flight test airspace, assigned blocked airspace and new technologies to support the growth of the AAM industry and accelerate the certification of eVTOLs.

Over the coming months, VPorts will work with an expanded network of partners to engage with key strategic centres of expertise, including eVTOL manufacturing, flight simulation and training, regulators, air navigation service providers, technology service providers, operators, electric charging manufacturers and urban planners.