A French startup, AirNova, is working towards establishing a network of vertiports—sites for take-offs and landings of small electric air taxis as well as drones. The company aims to become the leading vertiport operator in France via regional development.
According to a representative of the company, there are currently about 20 sites being evaluated as potential vertiport locations. AirNova’s spokesperson shared in an emailed statement to Avionics International that after the first operational sites are validated, they plan to build up to 20 new vertiports each year.
“Our rooftop Vertiport projects are new constructions that meet the criteria of specifications in line with the expectations of the competent authorities such as the DGAC [the French Civil Aviation Authority]/DSAC [Civil Aviation Safety Directorate], EASA, etc.,” the representative wrote.
AirNova’s spokesperson noted that their vertiports will be designed to accommodate vehicles with a take-off and landing weight under 3,175 kilograms. “Some of the vertiports and vertihubs will be equipped with charging, maintenance, and storage systems for eVTOLs [electric vertical take-off and landing] and drones,” they added.
AirNova has requested an extension of its French patent to Europe, the representative shared. “We plan to develop partnerships with European players to extend the coverage of AirNova veriports in several European countries, initially bordering on France,” they wrote.
Laurent Mathiolon has been working on the concept of buildings equipped with vertiports for more than four years, and he filed a patent for the concept with the National Institute of Industrial Property in France in 2020. The patent was formally accepted two years later, and Mathiolon created the AirNova startup. Soon after that, in October 2022, the company announced a campaign to raise €3 million. This funding will be used for feasibility studies and construction of the first demonstration sites.
In an interview last year, Mathiolon explained that many forms of public transportation—and especially roads—are nearing saturation in all major cities around the world. One area that has not yet been utilized to its potential is the airspace that exists between 50–150 meters above sea level.
The AirNova team envisions three initial applications for its vertiport network: healthcare, package delivery, and transportation. Another potential application is for firefighting operations. Mathiolon commented, “We want to be able to provide fast water supply [and] allow specialized drones to be able to use our vertiports to get there [immediately],” before larger vehicles might be able to get to the site.
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