ABOVE: Love it or loathe it, AAM and general aviation are starting to share the same space

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure developer Skyports Infrastructure is to develop the UK’s first vertiport testbed at Bicester, Oxfordshire. Specifically designed to accommodate electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft, the facility is described by Bicester Motion as ‘a critical facility for testing ground infrastructure and flight operations’.

The vertiport’s design has been submitted to Cherwell District Council and will include a 160 square meter passenger terminal situated at the corner of the grass airfield. Although the airfield’s resident fixed-wing operators were recently given notice to permanently vacate the onsite hangar, “Skyport’s vertiport is planned to be located on a 0.42 acre plot on the edge of the existing grass runways and will operate on the airfield only,” a Bicester Motion spokesperson confirmed to Pilot magazine.

Chief executive of Bicester Motion Daniel Geoghegan belives the vertiport reflects “the next chapter in Bicester Motion’s evolution of aviation,” adding that the agreement is “a major step for UK aviation innovation”.

The project is being developed as part of the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium (AMEC) and backed by Innovate UK’s Future Flight Challenge, with Vertical Aerospace among the aircraft developers due to participate in test flights.

“As a hub for researching, testing and demonstrating ground and air operations for the advanced air mobility industry, it will play a significant role in developing a UK vertiport network and implementing commercial air taxi services in the future,” commented Gary Cutts, challenge director at Future Flight, Innovate UK.

Skyports aims to open its vertiport doors by the end of 2024 to align with the AMEC testing programme.

IMAGE: BICESTER MOTION