Skyports has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Japanese trading company Kanematsu Corporation, as both companies look to facilitate the deployment and operation of advanced air mobility services for passenger and cargo missions in the country.

The collaboration began last year with a focus on vertiport infrastructure and engaging in joint research, as well as providing a platform for discussions with local, public and private stakeholders. This month, the agreement has been extended to include the drone delivery market.

Duncan Walker, chief executive officer at Skyports, said: “Establishing a presence in new markets, especially in an emerging industry, requires considerable expertise, as well as detailed understanding of local regulatory and political frameworks. Working with partners such as Kanematsu, we have a world-class, local presence which will do much to support our first steps to success in Japan.”

“Kanematsu shares our aspiration of unlocking the sky for advanced air mobility, and this collaboration brings us one considerable step closer to launching successful commercial AAM operations in the region.”

Skyports already has a presence in Asia, after working with German startup Volocopter to build the world’s first full-scale air taxi vertiport – known as the VoloPort. It was showcased to the public in Singapore in 2019 and its modular design can be easily adapted to fit rooftops, railway stations, parking lots and other metropolitan locations.

More recently, eVTOL Insights spoke to Skyports’ Head of Asia-Pacific, Yun-yuan Tay as part of its popular podcast series. He spoke in more detail about the company’s plans for the eVTOL aircraft market in the region.

Kanematsu is involved in a wide range of businesses through its four segments: Motor Vehicles & Aerospace, Electronics & Devices, Steel, Materials & Plant and Foods, Meat & Grain. In the aerospace section, it is looking to proactively expand this business area to eVTOL, UAV, helicopter, fixed-wing, engine and infrastructure.

Yoshiya Miyabe, senior managing executive officer, chief officer, motor vehicles and aerospace division at Kanematsu, said: “We are excited to have a strong partnership with Skyports, the world leader in ground infrastructure solutions for AAM and drone delivery. We see a huge opportunity for AAM and drone delivery to benefit the future of transportation for both people and goods.

“Together we will bring forth innovations in aviation and help to revolutionise air mobility and transport logistics to benefit people’s lives, communities and countries’ economies, in an environmentally sustainable and responsible manner.”

As well as Skyports, Volocopter also has plans for Japan. It signed an agreement with Japan Airlines last year to help develop and launch urban air mobility services within the next three years.

While Japanese eVTOL aircraft developer SkyDrive completed the first public test flight of its SD-03 flying car last year. Shortly afterwards, it raised ¥3.9 billion in Series B funding and has joined an ongoing roundtable in Osaka to realise its potential.

The roundtable was set up as the core organisation to accelerate the initiative led by the Public-Private Conference for Future Air Mobility, which was created by the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Transport and Industry (METI).