The French company Airnova plans to develop a network of vertiports that will connect all the major cities in France. A 3 million euro donation campaign has been launched for the first vertiport network. The company has made an investment of 500,000 euros. The company aims to build 15 to 20 new vertiports per year by 2023. Within the framework of the project, France's largest cities such as Bordeaux, Nantes and Toulouse are targeted first.
As is well known, vertiports allow vertical takeoff and landing vehicles to land and take off in the city. Vertiports, a solution provided by the development of technologies and systems, has a design adapted to the capabilities of new VTOL vehicle systems with vertical takeoff and landing.
It is estimated that once administrative approval is granted, it will take 12 to 24 months to build a vertiport and six to eight months to convert an existing heliport to make it suitable for eVTOLs.
In developing the vertiport design, Airnova consulted with eVTOL companies such as Volocopter and Airbus, as well as several helicopter operating companies.
Laurent Mathiolon, CEO and founder of Airnova, said, "In 2020, Airnova created a unique vertiport design that was subsequently approved for the French region by the French Institute of Intellectual Property Rights INPI in April 2022. Its extension to the rest of Europe is currently in the approval process." Mathiolon said the landing surfaces are designed to accommodate aircraft weighing up to eight tons, and a slight elevation is intended to improve eVTOL landing performance by reducing venturi and ground effects. In addition, Mathiolon said this configuration will also allow easier access to the bottom of the eVTOLs for logistics and battery maintenance operations.
The company will present three main types of vertiport designs. One is the design of transforming existing rooftop heliports at hospitals by adding battery charging stations and robotic arms to support medical logistics operations. Another is the design of Vertiport infrastructure, called VertiStations, ideally outside the city and close to logistics centers. This design is intended for VertiStations conducting eVTOL operations in regional or rural areas. Airnova's latest design is the construction of urban Vertiports on the roofs of high-rise buildings that provide direct access to the city center.
Vertiports will have two runways and two parking stations for logistical operations and rapid battery charging. These areas will cover a floor area of approximately 1,000 square meters. In addition, it will be designed to provide eVTOL aircraft with access to a variety of power sources, such as electric charging stations or future hydrogen charging stations when the technology becomes available. Spare batteries can also be placed near the parking stations.