Electric aviation is on the rise in the UK as Skyports and Bicester Motion plan the country’s first vertiport testbed

  • Electric aviation booms as Skyports and Bicester Motion partner for the UK’s first electric vertiport testbed in Oxfordshire.
  • The vertiport aims to be a central hub for testing ground infrastructure and flight operations.
  • Supported by the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium, it’s part of the UK’s Future Flight Challenge.

Skyports and Bicester Motion’s proposed veritport testbed will propel the UK’s electric aviation industry into the future

Skyports Infrastructure plans the UK’s first vertiport testbed in partnership with Bicester Motion, a 444-acre estate dedicated to mobility technology. The project focuses on electric aviation, collaborating with the Advanced Mobility Ecosystem Consortium, supported by Innovate UK’s Future Flight Challenge.

Duncan Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Skyports, said:

 “Our vertiport at Bicester Motion is ideally located to serve as a central hub for the UK’s advanced air mobility industry.

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The facility will be employed by Skyports and our strategic partners to test and refine all aspects of our ground technology and operations within a UK context. This will also be a key location for early demonstration flights in the UK and will help to pave the way for permanent operations in the future.”

The vertiport aims to be a critical hub for testing ground infrastructure and flight operations. It anticipates a pivotal role in shaping the future of air transport, featuring a compact 160 sq m passenger terminal. The completion target is the end of 2024.

The vertiport’s strategic location, near Oxford and the Cotswolds, positions it beyond a test site. Conveniently, the site is just an hour and forty minute drive from central London. It holds potential to bridge urban centres, regional hubs, and tourism destinations within a 25-minute air taxi journey.

Daniel Geoghegan, Chief Executive, Bicester Motion said: 

“This news reflects the next chapter in Bicester Motion’s evolution of aviation and presents the opportunity for Bicester and the county to be at the forefront of this exciting pioneering industry.

We have already had successful specialist drone flight testing from the airfield and these eVTOLs will use electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically meaning that noise is to a minimum and pioneering sustainable flight and travel are nearer a reality.”

Gary Cutts, Challenge Director – Future Flight, Innovate UK, commented:

 “The UKRI Future Flight Challenge was launched with the objective of accelerating the development and integration of innovative aviation solutions for UK industry and communities. Through flagship projects such as AMEC, we’re ensuring that the UK remains firmly on the map as a leading contributor to the next generation of aviation. Skyports’ vertiport at Bicester Motion is instrumental to this objective. As a hub for researching, testing and demonstrating ground and air operations for the advanced air mobility industry, it will play a significant role in developing a UK vertiport network and implementing commercial air taxi services in the future.”

The design, currently pending approval by Cherwell District Council, draws inspiration from Skyports’ testbeds in Paris and California. This vertiport is a tangible step toward the future. It’s part of a broader initiative, involving public and stakeholder engagement, demonstrations by Vertical Aerospace, and a commitment to proving the technical and commercial feasibility of air taxi services in the UK.

James Richmond, Head of Advanced Air Mobility at consortium leader AtkinsRéalis said: 

“This vertiport testbed will help to demonstrate the technical and commercial feasibility of air taxi services in the UK. It is also an ideal opportunity to optimise the passenger journey, taking into account key factors such as processing time, security and accessibility – bringing to life the future of air transport for the public and key stakeholders”.

This development builds on recent advancements in the UK’s electric aerospace industry. In 2024 alone, AeroVolt collaborated with the Snowdonia Aerospace Centre. The partnership is creating a similar testing facility for electric light aircraft. Furthermore, AeroVolt penned an agreement with leading UK charging provider, Octopus Energy. This agreement will streamline the charging process for pilots with the use of the Octopus Electroverse card.

The trajectory is clear. Electric aviation is on the rise. Multiple major testing centres are now in the works in the UK, and investment in the sector is rising. How long will it be before electric passenger flights are readily available?

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