Sat. Oct 1st, 2022

Seletar Airport, Singapore’s second and considerably less well-known airport, is located about 20 minutes to the northwest of Changi Airport, which is frequently ranked as the greatest airport in the world. In their own aircraft, the ultra wealthy frequently arrive there. Additionally, it may be where aviation’s future takes off.

The area is establishing itself as a hub for flying taxis despite being better renowned for its laid-back cafés in restored British colonial houses and tranquil seaside towns. The old airfield in Singapore may be transformed into a vertiport, or an airport where the aerial devices take off and land vertically, in the style of the Jetsons, according to two agreements previously struck with innovative air mobility firms Skyports Ltd. and Volocopter GmbH.

It’s also not some distant dream. Seletar Airport, or vertiport, may serve as a worldwide blueprint for what the future of transportation may entail. Plans call for flying taxis to be operating there as soon as 2024.

So-called eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles) have recently attracted a lot of attention. At this year’s Singapore Air Show in February, electric taxis stole the show after Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes, best known for founding AirAsia, ordered Vertical Aerospace Ltd to hire at least 100 of them. Numerous eVTOLs have also been ordered by airlines including American Airlines Inc. and Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd.

Sunny Xi, a principal at consultant Oliver Wyman’s transportation and services team, stated, “Singapore is, and continues to aim to be, the world leader in mobility, and this development is another stone in that wall.” “This is about more than just clearing up traffic on the highways. To test, learn from, and expand both the adoption of mobility and the company to eventually export it throughout the world, Singapore has all the necessary components.

Flying taxis, however, still need to overcome a significant obstacle because they were previously only seen in science fiction. No one has received approval from authorities anywhere to actually fly with people on board.

Authorities can take years to approve new technology, and flying taxis have only just made the enormous transition from being an idea to being a reality. Before approving them for use in commercial operations, regulators are now evaluating the safety of such cars.
Asia will play a significant role in the adoption of eVTOL, claim companies like Volocopter.

According to Christian Bauer, chief commercial officer of Volocopter, “In Asia, there is a high concentration of major cities that you don’t have in any other area.” “This new industry is creative, beneficial to locals, visitors, and cross-border links to ease the burden of traffic.”

Volocopter is demonstrating its aircraft in the city-state later this month to raise public awareness. The company estimates that the sector would generate S$4.2 billion ($3 billion) in cumulative economic benefits for Singapore and up to 1,300 local employment by 2030. It has also praised the “political benefits,” such as lower automobile ownership and Singapore’s capacity to serve as an example for the rest of Asia.

According to Bauer, prices for passengers are anticipated to start at around 40% of the price of a helicopter. Within five to six years, he predicted, that cost may reach a level similar to that of a high-end cab.

The company’s service will be “extremely silent compared to a helicopter,” Bauer said, adding that it would be intriguing for someone who could afford a taxi to take a Volocopter instead. It won’t be audible to you at all.

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., a leader in Chinese vehicle manufacturing, as well as the venture capital arm of chipmaker Intel Corp. and the German logistics company DB Schenker, support Volocopter. Along with Ken Allen, the CEO of DHL eCommerce, Kanematsu Corp. in Japan and the Goodman Group in Australia support Skyports.
Despite all the work being done in the background, Seletar’s emerging revolution is still not evident.

On a recent visit, the airfield was full with small trainer and private aircraft, with a few larger aircraft in hangars for maintenance. Most of the diners at an aviation-themed cafe with a view of the runway were foreigners or locals who worked at adjacent aircraft repair businesses. One of just two commercial services departing from the airport, staff members within the terminal were occupied helping a few customers board an aircraft to Subang Jaya in Malaysia.

Jurong Town Corporation in Singapore, often known as JTC and a major state-run developer of real estate, is optimistic about Seletar’s potential. Seletar Aerospace Park, the larger region around the airfield, is the hub of Singapore’s aerospace sector cluster and is home to over 60 enterprises, including engine manufacturers, maintenance, research and training,

Director of JTC’s aerospace and marine cluster Lim Ai Ting remarked, “The future of urban air transportation is fascinating and has far-reaching prospects for Seletar Aerospace Park.” “We’re presently talking about additional relationships with a variety of parties. This will enhance the park’s liveliness and improve the ecology supporting the aerospace sector.

According to a report by Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc and consultant Roland Berger published earlier this year, the area will account for roughly half of the worldwide market by 2050 with over 82,500 passenger eVTOLs estimated to be operating there. According to the study, the flying machines may be utilised as airport shuttles, for sightseeing flights, or intercity transport and could go up to 250 kilometres (155 miles) on a single charge.

According to Yun Yuan Tay, Skyports’ CEO of APAC, “Singapore’s goal is centred initially on tourist flights, and ultimately, regional connections, with its high-rise and high-density landscape, and extremely efficient domestic transit networks. According to him, Seletar is “the optimal location for the holistic growth of an industry as innovative as advanced air mobility” because of its integrated cluster of aerospace-related facilities.

More generally, eVTOL development is not exclusive to Singapore or Asia.

Last month, a division of Kenya Airways Plc agreed to purchase up to 40 flying taxis from EVE UAM, a subsidiary of Eve Holding Inc. with US headquarters, beginning in 2026. The first fully operational hub for flying taxis is set to open this spring in Coventry, England, formerly known as Britain’s automotive city. Urban-Air Port Ltd., a London-based business that competes with Skyports, is developing the facility, which is on a vehicle parking lot at a major intersection across the street from Coventry’s main railway station.

The good news is that we were nearing cities a few years ago, according to Bauer of Volocopter. Cities are now contacting Volocopter as a result of the demand, the revolutionary transformation, and their desire to be present. On the list, Singapore ranks quite high.

In addition to regulatory certification, eVTOLs’ limited flight duration presents another challenge: range. Due to the enormous weight of the batteries needed to fly hundreds of miles, popular passenger aircraft like Airbus SE’s A320s series or Boeing Co.’s 737 family have been essentially ruled out for electrification.

The fact that the aerial equipment is electric won’t much reduce aviation’s enormous carbon impact, either.

Flying taxis won’t be a solution in the near future since flights longer than 1,500 kilometres account for around 80% of the industry’s carbon emissions, according to Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association, who stated this in May. According to Walsh, the largest lobbying organisation for airlines is “cautious” about how the technology would affect the industry’s progress toward net zero.

Xi from Oliver Wyman concurs. He believes that all-electric power should only be used for short-haul, mostly commuter, aircraft with nine to 19 seats.

It’s doubtful that electric planes would pose a threat to contemporary commercial aviation without major advancements in the specific energy density of batteries relative to kerosene.

By adele rose

Adele Rose is the senior editor and employee of WGBS Pvt Ltd Digital wing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.