SkyportsFuture Mobility Campus IrelandAvtrain and Shannon Group have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish Ireland’s first passenger and cargo vertiport. The partnership will work towards launching an operational vertiport at Shannon’s FMCI campus in 2022, thereby encouraging participation and investment in Ireland’s Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) industry. The long-term goal is the establishment of Ireland’s first air taxi service and routine beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone operations.

Those collaborating in this venture are: Skyports, the world’s leading passenger air taxi and cargo drone vertiport provider; Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI), Ireland’s first testbed for future mobility located next to Shannon Airport; Avtrain, Europe’s leading drone training and certification body; and Shannon Group’s International Aviation Services Centre, which supports and promotes one of Ireland’s largest aviation clusters located at Shannon.

Skyports is a leading enabler of advanced air mobility (AAM) and provides the critical link between the ground and the sky. The company designs, builds and operates take-off and landing infrastructure for​ air taxis, and partners with electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger and cargo vehicle manufacturers around the world to enable safe and efficient flight operations within urban and suburban environments.

Duncan Walker, CEO at Skyports, said: “This partnership provides a launch pad for Ireland’s advanced air mobility market. To be contributing at this early stage demonstrates the criticality of vertiport infrastructure to the success of the industry.  Participating alongside a group of such high calibre organisations puts us in a strong position to kick-start the project, providing the perfect mix of expertise to make our AAM plans a reality.”

The consortium has begun working towards launching beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) proof-of-concept operations as early as September 2021. These flights will demonstrate the viability of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and highlight the benefits that research and investment in AAM will bring to urban and rural areas of Ireland.

Another partner in the project is Avtrain. They are on a  mission is to encourage prolific drone operations and keep the skies safe through certification and the highest standards of training.

Julie Garland, CEO at Avtrain, said: “The calibre of the partners in this project ensures its success. The vast experience in training & certification standards, vertiport development, BVLOS drone ops, airport operations and autonomous mobility are a force to be reckoned with in the Advanced Air Mobility market. The location next to Shannon Airport is the epicentre of the aviation industry in Ireland and critical to the future integration of manned and unmanned aircraft. The future is here, onwards and upwards!”

Future Mobility Campus Ireland (FMCI) is a not-for-profit organisation that was founded with the sole purpose of creating and delivering a future mobility ecosystem and test bed for stimulating research, development and innovation in the area of Mobility as a Service (MaaS). Focus areas include Smart City infrastructure, Connected Autonomous Vehicles for both road and air usage, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, big data management and analytics. The testbed is located in the Limerick-Shannon metropolitan area at Shannon Free Zone, Shannon, Co. Clare, Ireland.

FMCI is supported by both industry and research partners, the local authorities of Clare and Limerick, and Shannon Group. FMCI is funded as part of the Regional Enterprise Development Fund. The fund is an initiative of the Government under Project Ireland 2040 and it aligns with the Future Jobs Ireland framework. It is administered for the Government by Enterprise Ireland.

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Russell Vickers, CEO at Future Mobility Campus Ireland, said: “Ireland and this region in particular has a huge potential to shape future research and development of Advanced Aerial Mobility. This partnership demonstrates the belief in that potential. Development of a vertiport in conjunction with a UAV testing area provides a natural extension to the capabilities of the Future Mobility Campus. The ecosystem continues to grow thanks to the vision and belief of our partners.”

Shannon Group is an Irish commercial semi-state organisation focused on the development of our aviation, tourism and property assets, which are a critical catalyst for stimulating economic growth for the West of Ireland and the wider national economy. Established in 2014, we are a unique family of expert businesses focused on the development of aviation, property and tourism. Our vision is to reach further to build a thriving connected place for the benefit of the region, our people and our country.

Part of Shannon Group is the International Aviation Services Centre (Shannon IASC), tasked with building on the well-established cluster of aviation companies at Shannon. IASC helps existing aerospace firms here develop their business, as well as working alongside IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland to bring new companies to Shannon.  IASC’s work in growing the aerospace cluster at Shannon, is contributing to developing Ireland’s aerospace capabilities and helping to ensure that the country remains a global centre for the aviation industry.

John Drysdale, Business Development Manager at Shannon Group, said: “Collaborating with stakeholders who are experts in their field will provide a robust platform to develop new technologies and innovations in this exciting sector. The Shannon Campus will provide an ideal incubation space within which the future of mobility can be developed in a collegial manner bringing great opportunities to the region.“