Jaunt Air Mobility, PS&S, and Price Systems are joining efforts to advance ground infrastructure for the growing urban air mobility (UAM) industry in preparation for flight operations with customers on board. On October 22, Jaunt's chief commercial officer Simon Briceno announced the new venture, Access Skyways, at the Invest in Bavaria Urban Air Mobility 2020: Future of Urban Air Transport and Logistics conference. PS&S is an architectural firm and Price Systems is a cost-estimation technology company.
According to Briceno, Jaunt has signed a memorandum of understanding with PS&S and Price Systems. “This has been in the works for some time,” he said. “As an eVTOL manufacturer, we recognize the importance of the air mobility ecosystem. We need to make sure we’re ready to provide customers with safe, efficient, reliable transport. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure air mobility operations happen with the safety and reliability we see in today’s commercial industry.”
The three companies aim primarily to help develop vertiports for advanced air mobility (AAM) operations. But the wider plan is to enable AAM from “concept to operations,” by integrating air mobility services. This encompasses the concept/opportunity; supply, demand, and cost analysis; program management; community engagement; infrastructure design; electrification; flight operations; and maintenance, repair, and overhaul.
“We’re excited to launch Access Skyways and work with these partners on these challenges,” Briceno said. “The future of air mobility is promising and has a lot to offer society.”
To help make the AAM market possible, however, the infrastructure surrounding eVTOL operations is key, and that’s what Access Skyways is designed to do. “We have great eVTOL technology, but we need to optimize it for the market, not just performance,” said Nate Sirirojvisuth, cost research analyst at Price Systems.
“As a manufacturer of the Jaunt Journey eVTOL aircraft, we are committed to supporting operators in addressing the requirements to facilitate the integration of this generation of environmentally friendly aircraft,” said Jaunt CEO Martin Peryea.
Jaunt is slated to be one of the providers of aircraft for the Uber Elevate ridesharing network. The company says its Access Skyways initiative will complement Uber's work on infrastructure to support urban air mobility.
The U.S. company says it has tested an early technology demonstrator for its planned Jaunt Journey eVTOL aircraft for more than 300 flight hours. The demonstrator includes a full-scale rotor system, allowing the Jaunt team to collect data covering rotor stability at various speeds, rotor energy management, pitch attitude control using mast movement, main rotor acoustics, and pilot instruction baselines.
Both versions share similar design features, with a single main rotor system and a high-aspect-ratio wing, on which electric motor powerplants are fitted, with four on the Journey. There is no tailrotor to provide anti-torque force as this can be handled by the wing-mounted motors.
The Journey incorporates Jaunt’s reduced rotor operating speed design, which slows down the main rotor during cruise, allowing the aircraft to fly at speeds of up to 151 knots and range up to 70 nm. However, this performance depends on expected advances in battery technology during the coming two to three years.
A key advantage of the Jaunt design is that it can autorotate to landing in case of power failure. Weights in the rotor blade tips help the Jaunt aircraft “perform a safe controlled landing under complete power loss,” Briceno said. “The rotor will continue to spin very fast and it’s able to fly safely to a controlled landing. This has been performed numerous times with the Jaunt technology demonstrator.”
The company plans to operate under normal Part 135 charter regulations, and trips initially will be flown by one pilot, then later shift to autonomous operations. The Journey will carry up to four passengers or, in cargo configuration, a single standard cargo pallet. Its noise signature is low—about 70 dB and is thus approximately as loud as a small delivery truck, he said.
Likewise, the Journey will be certified under existing FAA and EASA regulations, with some items requiring special conditions. Certification and entry into service is expected in 2026.
Jaunt has signed on BAE Systems as the energy management supplier and Triumph to provide thermoplastics and composites expertise. There are other suppliers “we can’t mention,” Peryea said. One is a “tier one global avionics company with a pedigree in certification. Collaboration with existing suppliers is critical to launching a new program.”
Briceno concluded, “The future of mobility is about using that airspace above us in a more efficient way. These aerial mobility solutions will inevitably connect communities, and this is made possible as a result of technologies that have rapidly matured over the last decade.”