The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Canadian Start-up VPorts Plans AAM Vertiport Network in Québec

A Canadian start-up company is planning to build an advanced air mobility (AAM) vertiport network in Québec.

VPorts, a Mirabel, Québec-based company founded in 2021 to develop AAM infrastructure, announced on Tuesday its plans to create the region’s first eVTOL vertiport network. Initially, VPorts will focus on regional cargo flights and the transportation of patients and medical supplies, including organs for transplants. 

The company aims to provide eVTOL transportation routes connecting all major regions in the Québec province by 2030, and it plans to expand its operations to 1,500 vertiports across five continents by 2045. 

“We are excited to build the first vertiport network connecting all Québec regions, including remote communities that are not adequately served by surface transportation or underserved by aviation,” said VPorts president and founder Fethi Chebil.

VPorts said its vertiport network will initially support quiet, lightweight eVTOLs with a range of up to 250 kilometers (160 miles), which is the farthest current eVTOLs can fly given the battery technology available today. VPorts will not be manufacturing its own eVTOLs, as it is strictly focused on infrastructure, but it will allow any eVTOL aircraft operators to land and take off from its vertiports, a company spokeswoman told FutureFlight.

According to VPorts, all of the company’s vertiports will be equipped with charging stations for electric aircraft as well as hydrogen fuel stations for hybrid aircraft. 

The company’s first vertiports will be set up at existing helipads and airports around Québec, including the Mirabel Hélico heliport and Montreal’s Saint-Hubert Airport, Chebil said. Other cities that VPorts plans to connect via its AAM network include Québec City, Ottawa-Gatineau, Sherbrooke, Drummondville, Mont-Tremblant, Trois-Rivières, Ste-Marie de Beauce, and Rivière-du-Loup. 

VPorts will also set up its AAM vertiports at a network of airports operated by the Ministry of Transportation of Québec (also known as Transports Québec) in the northern part of the province.

“We look forward to collaborating with Transport Canada, Nav Canada, the government of Québec, and municipal officials on defining safety and security regulations, flight corridors, urban integration, and community engagement for this important undertaking that will benefit our communities,” Chebil said.

The Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (NUAIR) has agreed to work with VPorts on the operational concept and other requirements, such as the integration of air traffic management. VPorts has also tapped UAM Geomatics, a collaboration between the Vertical Flight Society and Nexa Advisors, to map out ideal locations for the vertiports in Québec and to handle cost and revenue forecasting. 

Other partners include Ædifica, an architecture company that will design “eco-friendly” buildings with net zero carbon emissions for the vertiport network, and Innovitech, a consulting firm that is “developing a stakeholder management strategy focused on social acceptance,” the company said in a statement.

VPorts says it expects to create more than 1,000 jobs in Québec with the introduction of its vertiport network. The company also plans to work with local universities and research centers to develop technologies for its Vertiport Operation Control Center (VOCC), which will manage air traffic control integration and provide data on resource management to optimize the efficiency of the vertiport network. 

“A proven aviation leader with a rich history as an international aerospace hub, Québec is proud to break new ground by becoming one of the first places in North America to introduce AAM,” said Suzanne M. Benoît, president of Aéro Montréal, Québec’s aerospace cluster. “VPorts’ project is aligned with Québec’s vision of promoting a greener industry. In the coming years, AAM will undoubtedly play a key role in shaping the future of the aerospace sector.’’