The world faces two pressing challenges. Congestion in cities, the lifeblood of national economies, is rising to unacceptable levels. This causes poor health outcomes and strangles economic growth. At the same time, humanity must confront the threat of climate change and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.
The Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium (AMEC) is aiming to demonstrate the commercial and operational viability of Advanced Aerial Mobility (AAM) in the UK. This is an efficient, electric mode of aerial transport complementary to existing transport infrastructure, helping to deliver both increased connectivity and net zero emission targets. In doing so we will deliver cost-effective and convenient inter-regional and intra-regional travel to the British public.
AMEC will demonstrate three first-of-kind air mobility services using Vertical Aerospace's emission-free VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft, operated by Virgin Atlantic. The first mission will take place between Bristol Airport and South-West node. The second will take place between Heathrow Airport and Skyports' Elstree vertiport. A third will digitally simulate a mission between Bristol Airport and London City Airport. These missions will explore and prove all aspects of the passenger journey, vehicle operation, airspace navigation, ground charging, security provision and local stakeholder management.
Various technologies and methods are being proven. Vertical Aerospace is exploring novel means of compliance with civil aviation regulators as it prepares an airworthy vehicle for demonstration. Skyports is building a "living lab" vertiport at Elstree Airport to allow UK AAM stakeholders to trial technologies and operational concepts, facilitating commercial operations. Atkins and Skyports are deploying innovative digital infrastructure to modernise airspace and ensure compliance with national aviation safety regulations and border security.
The consortium also involves the cooperation of world-leading public and academic institutions that are bringing their expertise to enable an economically viable AAM ecosystem. Cranfield are undertaking vertiport network and scheduling optimisation. Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) are developing open hardware and software standards for rapid eVTOL charging solutions that are essential to achieve fast turnarounds and high aircraft utilisation. Connected Places Catapult will manage delivery of the project and address, from a neutral perspective, the many public acceptance challenges surrounding the introduction of AAM services.
The potential benefits to the UK are vast. Greater convenience for the travelling British public, substantial export earnings from the domestic manufacture of aircraft with associated products and services, enhanced connectivity driving GDP multiplier effects and levelling-up opportunities, and fewer harmful emissions.