Volocopter is joining forces with Malaysia Airports and Skyports to develop plans to build vertiports for urban air mobility (UAM) service in the Southeast Asian country. Under a memorandum of understanding announced on July 21, the partners will evaluate suitable sites for operating eVTOL aircraft, like Volocopter’s two-seat VoloCity multicopter and the larger, longer-range VoloConnect fixed-wing model. The study will take account of factors such as demand for flights, customer throughput, and how to integrate all aspects of UAM operations.
Citing Porsche Consulting’s 2018 report, Volocopter stated that the Asia Pacific region will account for around 45 percent of the advanced air mobility market, with a projected value of $9.5 billion by 2035. In an updated report published earlier this month, Porsche's researchers said that 16 Asian cities are among the 30 major international conurbations where it expects to see eVTOL air taxi services launched first. These include the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, as well as the following: Beijing, Chengdu, Kunming, Chongqing, Dongguan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tianjin in China; the Thai capital, Bangkok; Delhi and Mumbai in India; Manila in the Philippines; Tokyo and Osaka in Japan; and Taiwan's capital, Taipei.
“The Southeast Asian market is one of the largest and most interesting ones for UAM due to its geographical layout and dense population,” said Volocopter chief commercial officer Christian Bauer. “Our feasibility study will allow us to explore all the elements needed to create a future air mobility model that could be deployed across the region.”
For Malaysia Airports, the partnership with Volocopter and Skyports is part of a wider five-year regeneration plan for Kuala Lumpur’s Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport. The company, which was privatized by the government in 1999, runs five international airports, 16 domestic airports, and 18 short-takeoff-and-landing facilities across the country.
According to Malaysia Airports CEO Dato’ Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh, the group aims to involve itself in aircraft assembly and manufacturing, as well as maintenance, repair, and overhaul to support air taxi operations. “Our objective is to provide end-to-end, mid- to high-value capabilities and solutions that are anchored by top-tier operators,” he commented.
Working with Volocopter, UK-based Skyports previously set up a temporary vertiport in Singapore to support a public flight demonstration of the German manufacturer’s prototype aircraft in 2019. It has several other infrastructure projects in development elsewhere in Asia, as well as in Europe and North America.