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Flying taxis are coming to a city near you

London’s £7bn Brent Cross regeneration is set to include a take-off and landing ‘vertiport’ for air taxis as its development partners beef up their transport infrastructure ambitions.

Joint venture partners Argent Related and Barnet Council have signed a memorandum of understanding with Skyports, an owner and operator of vertiport infrastructure, to develop a passenger air taxi vertiport at Brent Cross Town.

Argent Related and Skyports will use the mixed-use development as a pilot project. Depending on its outcome, it could be rolled out to other Argent Related developments in the UK and the US, Skyports told PlaceTech.

The appeal of vertiports

While Argent Related is investing heavily in traditional forms of transport in Brent Cross, a potential vertiport would open up high-speed travel in the area, connecting it not just to central London but to regional hubs.

Several companies, including Uber, Toyota and Airbus, are working on air taxi prototypes that could reach speeds up to 200mph.

Development director Anthony Peters said a vertiport could allow travel to Oxford or Cambridge in 15 minutes, while Manchester would be just 50 minutes away.

He added: “Creating strong connections to key regional cities will support the development of a new office quarter in Brent Cross.”

Countdown to take-off

An interim vertiport could be built at Brent Cross Town as early as 2024, with a permanent location installed later this decade.

However, Skyports said that its air taxi partners are on track to gain certification by 2024, which means the UK could see its first commercial passenger flights as early as 2025.

Skyports, which has in recent years snapped up rooftop spaces across London for use as drone delivery sites, unveiled its first air taxi vertiport in Singapore in 2019. Since then, it has struck deals across the globe to develop “advanced air mobility”, including in Japan, Malaysia and the Americas.

In the UK, the company is involved in an 18-month government-backed research project exploring the feasibility of an air taxi service in the South West.

“Huge progress”

Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports, said the Brent Cross project is a “sign of huge progress” in the industry, adding: “The very fact that vertiports are being planned for construction in mixed-use neighbourhoods such as Brent Cross Town demonstrates the direction in which the industry is moving and the increasing confidence in its success.

“Our in-house team of airport planners, regulatory experts, airspace experts, software and hardware developers remains completely focused on vertiports which are safe, practical and in locations which will make a positive impact on daily life”.

André Gibbs, partner at Argent Related, said: “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with Skyports to provide a vertiport at Brent Cross Town and demonstrate our approach to future proof transport infrastructure.

“The vertiport would strengthen transport connections into and out of central London and would complement the new train station, the existing tube links, comprehensive road connectivity and cycleways.”

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