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Vertiport Location Key to Urban Air Mobility Success

The 3 Most Important Site-Selection Factors: Location, Location, Location

Listing of noise complaints at the top busiest airports in the U.S.
Results of 2015 Noise Impact Study Conducted by the FAA, courtesy of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Trying to predict the impact the placement of urban air mobility (UAM) vertiports might have on passengers, communities, federal regulators, and eVTOL operators, students and professors at Indiana’s Purdue University devised and conducted a study, Evaluating the Impact of Urban Air Mobility Aerodrome Siting on Mode Choice.

Using Chicago, Illinois’ Metropolitan area as a test, the researchers (Brandon E. Sells, Apoorv Maheshwari, Hsun Chao, Ethan C. Wright, William A. Crossley, and Dengfeng Sun) presented their findings about the effects site location (siting) of vertiports might have on the adoption and ultimate success of the burgeoning UAM industry.

Presenting their findings at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Aviation Forum in 2021, one of the key takeaways from the study mirrors a cliché whose first use was documented by real-estate property experts in 1926, nearly a century ago: ‘The three most important factors in determining the desirability of a property are ‘location, location, location.’”

Planning to Build a Vertiport? Site Selection Matters. A Lot.

What may have changed since that cliché was popularized are two additional implications the study revealed. The first implication concerns the process used to determine the vertiport site: “The Siting facilities must be a holistic process that includes UAM stakeholders, such as, but not limited to, FAA (airspace), future operators (demand capture and service), vehicle developers (vehicle design), and customers (demand),” the authors wrote.

The second implication the study revealed is the increased importance environmental considerations have if UAM is to (pardon the pun) ‘take off.’

Whether the concern is land-use, airspace, or weather, siting,” the authors write, “must account for these items such that more practical networks emerge.” The impact of aviation-related noise and vehicular ground traffic on existing communities, as well as where communities may emerge in the future, is a lesson which air carriers, airport operators, and the communities surrounding them, have grappled with for nearly 100 years.

Harkening back to 1989’s film classic, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” when it comes to building a vertiport, if you want thousands upon thousands to come, consider all the factors – perhaps, especially, location.

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Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer who is fascinated by the way technology changes our lives.