A con­sor­tium led by mobile oper­a­tor, SK Tele­com (SKT), is col­lab­o­rat­ing with South Kore­a’s gov­ern­ment of Jeju to begin com­mer­cial eVTOL flights in 2025, reports totaltele.com.

SKT announced last week a Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing (MoU) with Jeju Spe­cial Self-Gov­ern­ing Province, as it moves towards launch­ing the country’s first Urban Air Mobil­i­ty (UAM) ser­vices.

The resort island of Jeju is one of South Korea’s lead­ing domes­tic tourist attrac­tions, attract­ing a record 6.8 mil­lion tourists dur­ing the first half of 2022. As such, SKT and its part­ners believe the island is a per­fect loca­tion to begin tri­al­ing its UAM capa­bil­i­ties, envis­ag­ing a future where air­borne taxis fer­ry vis­i­tors across the Island.

Orig­i­nal Jeju Island Sto­ry

Ryu Young-sang, CEO of SK Tele­com, com­ment­ed, “We will turn Jeju Island, an eco-friend­ly tourist attrac­tion, into the main game-chang­er for the future mobil­i­ty ser­vice by grow­ing the region into an inno­v­a­tive base for UAMs.”

Known as the K‑UAM Dream Team Con­sor­tium, it was formed ear­li­er this year and includes defence and IT spe­cial­ist Han­wha Sys­tems, the Korea Mete­o­ro­log­i­cal Insti­tute, and Korea Air­ports Cor­po­ra­tion (KAC), the nation­al air­port author­i­ty, along­side SKT. The part­ners intend to launch a com­mer­cial ser­vice in 2025, with Jeju’s local gov­ern­ment agree­ing to over­see and sup­port the project.

SKT will pro­vide the UAM con­nec­tiv­i­ty plat­form, which it has been co-devel­op­ing with U.S eVTOL com­pa­ny, Joby Avi­a­tion, since Feb­ru­ary this year.

Ryu Young-sang

Mean­while, KAC is to estab­lish ver­ti­ports for the fly­ing taxis and mon­i­tor them in the air using exist­ing flight safe­ty infra­struc­ture. The exact loca­tion has yet to be iden­ti­fied. And Han­wha Sys­tems will help devel­op, oper­ate, and man­age the air taxi itself, includ­ing assist­ing the con­sor­tium to devel­op nav­i­ga­tion and con­trol solu­tions.

Seong-che­ol Eo, CEO of Han­wha, said, “The K‑UAM Dream Team will do its best to low­er the psy­cho­log­i­cal hur­dles for new trans­porta­tion meth­ods in Jeju, where tourism and cul­tur­al resources are con­cen­trat­ed, to lead the future mobil­i­ty par­a­digm.”

This Con­sor­tium is present­ly prepar­ing to com­pete in the ‘K‑UAM Grand Chal­lenge’, a com­pe­ti­tion set up by the South Kore­an gov­ern­ment, to demon­strate the safe­ty of UAM flight and find the country’s first offi­cial UAM oper­a­tor.

Mul­ti­ple rival con­sor­tiums have been formed to take part, with many of South Korea’s largest com­pa­nies, such as car-mak­er Hyundai, Kore­an IT firm Kakao Group, and con­glom­er­ate Lotte Group, tak­ing lead­ing roles.

Two of these oth­er con­sor­tia fea­ture SKT’s direct com­peti­tors, KT and LG Uplus. KT announced last Novem­ber they had formed a part­ner­ship with Hyundai Motor Com­pa­ny, Engi­neer­ing and Con­struc­tion Com­pa­ny; Incheon Inter­na­tion­al Air­port; and Kore­an Air to devel­op their own UAM capa­bil­i­ties. While, LG Uplus has stat­ed it is team­ing up with Kakao Mobil­i­ty and GS Cal­tex for a sim­i­lar UAM pilot in Busan, South Korea’s sec­ond largest city.

The South Kore­an gov­ern­ment is set to announce the con­sor­tia cho­sen to par­tic­i­pate in the Chal­lenge in Novem­ber, with demon­stra­tions by the entrants planned to take place in Seoul and Jeol­lanam-do province dur­ing 2023 and 2024.

(News Source: https://totaltele.com/)

(Top pic cred­it: Korea Air­ports Cor­po­ra­tion)