Sandhu continues to provide details about the great success of the ‘Air One’ vertiport infrastructure event in Coventry, opened to the public for free viewing between April 25th and May 14th.
Chris Stonor Asks The Questions.
How did the public react to the Supernal eVTOL?
They were blown away. Many asked questions like, ‘How fast and how far can it fly… the passenger cost and so on’ and we answered them. The fact they could see the aircraft, in situ, while actual smaller eVTOL flights were going on, the imagination can more easily stretch to the bigger picture. People were genuinely excited.
Were there any negative comments about the event?
In all honesty, I didn’t come across any. On the tours people often asked interesting questions. One was on the local air regulation challenges; how Coventry City Airport might deal with eVTOLs in its airspace, but, no, I don’t remember any negative comments.
Did people like the shopping area?
The public were interested in knowing why certain brands had been chosen. We discussed the environmental reasons, for example, less water used for a product, the recycling aspects, ultra-light and flexible clothes which means you can get 60 percent more in to a suitcase when travelling.
The kids loved the smart vending machines. They were a big hit. The cafe also did very well. It normalised the event experience. It allowed people to sit down with a coffee or tea, get comfortable in a chair, and in a relaxed manner take in what they saw.
As there was a lot to take in, did some people return for a second visit?
A number of people told us they had returned for another look, often with additional family or friends, as more tickets were made available to book again.
Everybody who came went on a tour. Some were more freestyle, some looked around faster, but there was always one of our team on-hand to answer questions and explain the displays.
What we did was to take a huge risk. Imagine if the public response had been whole-heartedly negative. How would the industry have reacted? Fortunately, the response was fantastic.
Do you feel you changed the public’s perception of eVTOLs through this event?
Given the overwhelming positive reaction, I feel we did. To watch smaller eVTOLs take-off and land. To be able to touch and interact with the displays, it helped overcome concerns or uncertainties.
I would imagine the Coventry City Council were happy with how it went?
Council Members attended. They were extremely proud we had pulled it off. Hyundai were delighted to see so many people admiring their aircraft. And by inviting representatives from all the leading eVTOL companies, we brought the industry together.
What have you learned from this event – can you improve on it?
There were various things we couldn’t do because of budget restraints. Various technology integrations, new designs, brand partnerships that were lined up, but couldn’t introduce. There is a lot more we can do.
On reflection, the risks that we took, the challenges faced and overcome, were all worth it.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) Interview Sandhu (Supernal eVTOL in Background)
Is it true you are taking this event around the UK?
Yes, ‘Air One’ will be moving to a new city. We’ve had interest from other UK City Councils. Coventry is seen by others as the one to follow. We’ll be announcing the new site very soon. This will enable us to carry out the next level of testing with larger eVTOLs. Although, the very next event will take place abroad as we plan to take ‘Air One’ also around the world. The City will be announced shortly.
In the UK, we are aiming to work with Leeds and Leeds airport in the North. We are in touch with Councils around London. Abroad, we are talking to interested parties in Sweden, Canada, North and South America, Europe and Asia.
I presume you could hold ‘Air One’ events concurrently around the globe?
Have you found a successful way of approaching Councils and other authorities to hold an ‘Air One’ event?
We have put together a droneport planning framework for the UK Government. It is intended for use by other cities, to gain an initial idea on how this type of infrastructure could be integrated.
Do you feel the more the public view ‘Air One’ and are excited by what they see, this may place pressure on air regulators and authorities to speed up the certification of eVTOLs and construction of vertiports?
Yes, as the public response was so positive towards the Coventry event, this may well help quicken the process.
Drones On Display
How would you sum up those three weeks?
The public response at Coventry shows there is an appetite, leaving aside the need for a future zero carbon footprint. There is no question the eVTOL industry will take flight.
The ground infrastructure needs to encompass how people travel to an ‘Air One’, the mode of transport required, the best use of hydrogen fuel cells and electric power. The Coventry event was just a tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to come.
(Pics: Urban-Air Port)