Page 17 - ATC Special Bulletin Series - Future Skies 2024
P. 17

Martina makes her way to the nearby vertidrome, from where electrically powered air taxis rise into the sky. These are about the size of a compact van and can accommodate four people. Martina checks in with three other passengers who have the same destination and takes her seat. There is no pilot on board; the flight is fully automated.
‘Vertidrome’ is the HorizonUAM project’s term for take-off and landing areas used by air taxis. This includes both ‘vertiports’ and ‘vertistops’. A vertiport is a set of landing pads that, in addition to charging stations, also has capacity for maintenance and repairs. Spare parts and tools are kept in stock here, and personnel ensure that the air taxis are operational. Vertistops, on the other hand, only have a landing pad and minimal infrastructure for passenger handling, weather monitoring, communications and navigation.
The researchers modelled the airside processes at the vertidrome, taking account of potential infrastructure failures, delays and changing wind conditions. Based on the simulation, they devised a concept for evaluating and comparing different take-off site designs.
The researchers carried out a real-time simulation to investigate the integration of vertidromes into the infrastructure of an existing airport. The result was that air taxi operations on existing runways would only be possible during periods of low traffic. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the tower controllers can only supervise a limited number of additional vehicles. The DLR experts therefore recommend setting up a dedicated UAM controller workstation to address this. Secondly, there are very few free time slots on existing runways for additional departures or arrivals.
In addition to the vertidrome at the airport, a number of small vertistops are also needed, distributed across the city centre. The DLR researchers used a simulation to create a scenario for Hamburg, a city of almost two million people spread over some 775 square kilometres. They considered all key elements – particularly aircraft and passengers – to be acting independently. The evaluation came up with a total requirement of 2800 flights per day, with capacity utilisation of up to 80 percent. This can be met by 275 air taxis moving between 20 vertidromes spread across the city. However, demand is unlikely to be the same for all vertidromes, so each take- off and landing site needs a different number of parking positions for air taxis – for Hamburg, a total of approximately 400.
Flight times can also be optimised through good network management. In this case, the choice was between time-slot-based approaches, as is the case in conventional flight operations, or trajectory-based approaches. For the latter, the most direct flight path is automatically calculated using the parameters of latitude, longitude, altitude and time, and coordinated with the flightpaths

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