There’s no denying that Avports has some pedigree when it comes to urban air mobility. Roll back the clock to the Midtown Manhattan "Mad Men" glory days of the late 1960s, when helicopters shuttled the great and the good to the top of the Pan Am Building, and you find the company’s origins as part of Pan Am World Services running that iconic facility.
Now, under new ownership and management for the past several years, the U.S. infrastructure and airport management specialist is seeking to play a big part in the future of mobility. Much of its focus is on helping smaller regional airports adapt to take advantage of the change being driven by new eVTOL and eSTOL aircraft. Vertiports could well be part of this equation.
In early August, energy group Baker Hughes announced an alliance with Avports to introduce so-called microgrids that could help airports switch to low-carbon power sources. The agreement covers plans for new technology that could include charging systems for aircraft and ground vehicles, as well as zero-emission buildings and other infrastructure.
Baker Hughes is working on sustainability initiatives such as hydrogen-ready turbines and heat-recovery processes. Avports currently supports operations and provides management services at 11 airports across seven states in the U.S., including Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut.
Hydrogen Dispensers Coming to an Airport Near You
Another new initiative at Avports is being advanced under a memorandum of understanding with Revo Zero to install hydrogen fuel dispensers at all sorts of public facilities, including airports. The partners are seeking permits to introduce a proof-of-concept installation at Tweed New Haven Airport that would start with refueling services for ground vehicles.
The companies are also looking to encourage police departments and city utility vehicles to make the switch from fossil fuel. They have conducted studies with the National Renewable Energy Laboratories on the price of hydrogen and how supplies will evolve.
Early in 2022, Avports forged an alliance with eVTOL aircraft developer Jaunt Air Mobility to support its Access Skyways initiative to prepare for commercial services with its Jaunt Journey vehicle. Jaunt aims to bring its aircraft to market in 2026, offering a range of 80 to 100 miles with a pilot and four passengers on board.
The Avports group, which was founded in 1927 as the infrastructure division of Pan American World Airways, has been contracted to manage and operate a dozen facilities, most of which are smaller airports, although its portfolio has included locations such as the Kennedy Space Center. Its latest undertaking will be an overhaul of the small, city-owned Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia, where it plans to implement passenger airline services.
Avports chief operating officer Arturo García-Alonso told AIN his team aims to regenerate airports under long-term leases through which it will invest in facilities that it then maintains and operates. He believes corporate aviation hubs like Manassas could fulfill their potential by attracting scheduled regional air mobility services using new, more efficient and sustainable aircraft. The company is now owned by investment bank Goldman Sachs, which acquired it from Johnson Controls.
“We are exploring hydrogen fuel and regional airports as two related business models,” García-Alonso said. “We are looking at all aspects of the power needs of the new aircraft because they will put a big burden on the existing power grids. We believe that the future is not just going to involve one solution; we will need myriad alternatives with different operating models.”