VPorts has partnered with the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Mohammed bin Rashid Aerospace Hub (MBRAH) at Dubai South to establish the world’s first advanced air mobility (AAM) integrator world centre in Dubai.

The project includes a dedicated flight-testing airspace, assigned blocked airspace and new technologies to accelerate the certification of eVTOL aircraft. VPorts has signed a 25-year exclusive lease agreement with MBRAH to establish the AAM centre on a 37,000 square metre site within Dubai South.

The project, which represents an initial investment of $40 million over three years, is expected to generate US$7 billion in direct revenues in Dubai and Abu Dhabi Combined, over the next 25 years and create 1,500 high-quality direct jobs. Development and construction will start in 2023 and it is expected to begin operations and conduct its first flight test in 2024.

Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub CEO Tahnoon Saif commented: “Our mandate at MBRAH is to attract top global players in the aviation sector to establish their presence in the emirate and operate as part of our overall ecosystem.

“The integrator world centre will enable and support worldwide eVTOL manufacturers and operators with flight testing facilities in all conditions. It will also help position Dubai as a world leader in advanced air mobility.”

USA-based NEXA Capital Partners will lead the initial investment round, assembling a consortium of investors already active in the AAM sector.

GCAA director general Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi continued: “As a leading civil aviation organisation, we are reshaping the regulatory landscape to leverage the presence of the principal project partners in Dubai.”

VPorts CEO and founder Dr Fethi Chebil added: “Our presence in Dubai is aligned with our strategy to build and operate 1,500 vertiports around the world by 2045, and our initial growth strategy is based on the regional transportation of goods and the efficient movement of patients, organs for transplants and medical equipment.

“Regulatory authorities from the region and around the world will be able to take advantage of the AAM integrator world centre in Dubai to build a regulatory framework for the benefit of their own jurisdiction. Logically, the first places to set up vertiports are existing helipads.”

Through VPorts’ global university program, the Smart Digital Green Innovation Network, comprising eight universities in Canada, the University of Sharjah, and the American University of Sharjah, are already in discussions to set up a collaborative framework, with other UAE universities invited to join.

Two weeks ago, VPorts announced the first international electric AAM corridor between New York’s Syracuse Hancock International Airport and VPorts’ vertiport at Mirabel in Québec, Canada.