From left: Dr. Fethi Chebil, president and founder of VPorts; chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation of Ras Al-Khaimah, Eng. Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi; and Ralf Schustereder, CEO of Ras Al-Khaimah Airport.
VPorts, a pioneer in the area of advanced air mobility (AAM) infrastructure, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ras Al-Khaimah Airport (RKT) to build and operate the first vertiport in the emirate—one of seven making up the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This follows an announcement, in December last year, to establish the world’s first AAM integrator center in Dubai.
The agreement was made during the 2023 Arab Aviation Summit which is taking place this week (March 14-16) and celebrates its 10th anniversary. The theme this year is ‘Impactful sustainability in modern-day travel and tourism’.
“We are committed to supporting the VPorts project and to enable AAM-related innovation and technology and know-how capacity building in the UAE,” said the chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation of Ras Al-Khaimah, His Highness Eng. Salem bin Sultan Al Qasimi.
According to the department, the VPorts project is aligned with the emirate’s renewable energy strategy and with the vision of the ruler of Ras Al-Khaimah, His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi. The aim is to achieve at least a 30% saving in electricity consumption and a 20% contribution from renewable energy by 2040.
Dr. Fethi Chebil, president and founder of VPorts, commented: ‘‘With the support of the Department of Civil Aviation, this project will enable all AAM partners to accelerate the adoption and deployment of advanced air mobility in RAK and throughout the UAE.”
VPorts’ initial growth plans are based on the regional transportation of goods, tourism, and the efficient movement of patients, organs for transplants, and medical equipment. The Ras Al-Khaimah vertiport, which will be established on a 10,000-square-meter site, will be designed for all types of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
VPorts expects to have a network of vertiports to handle the transportation of light goods covering key locations in the UAE.
Ralf Schustereder, CEO of RKT, said: “Ras Al-Khaimah Airport is aiming to be a leading enabler of economic and tourism growth. This project will position RKT as part of a development plan and key player in advanced air mobility in Ras Al-Khaimah.”
By 2030, VPorts plans to have a vertiport network spanning all major industrial areas across the UAE, providing a sustainable transportation solution via eVTOL aircraft. The network will focus on locations that optimize multimodal transportation connectivity, including Ras Al-Khaimah, Dubai South, Jebel Ali, Abu Dhabi, and, Sharjah.
Chebil is looking to “collaborate with each and every emirate” to secure locations for dedicated vertiports in the UAE network as well as establish the necessary safety and security regulations, flight corridors, urban integration, and community engagement that will be needed.
Meanwhile, in Dubai, VPorts’s integrator center plans are progressing. As part of this major undertaking, the company will work with an extended partner network to engage with key strategic poles of expertise, including eVTOL manufacturing, flight simulation and training, regulators, air navigation service providers, technology service providers, operators, electric charging manufacturers, and urban planners. The project is supported by the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority.
VPorts aims to build and operate 1,500 vertiports around the world by 2045, which will be integrated into local and global air mobility ecosystems.