Managing director of Skyports, Duncan Walker, believes the UK could see passenger carrying drones sooner rather than later, and they could come even before drone delivery services.
In an exclusive interview with Commercial Drone Professional, Walker gave his insight on the current state of the industry and went into detail on what Skyports is doing here in the UK and abroad.
Skyports is a London-based infrastructure company that has installed 15 ‘Skyports’ already in the capital, as preparation for the emerging drone market.
The company’s plan is to make congested cities ready for when the drone market takes off with the installation of drone sized helipads.
Skyports hopes to implement this business model across busy cities across the globe and make a variety of locations drone-friendly in the process for when the currently emerging market takes off.
In the UK, managing director Duncan Walker believes that when it comes to infrastructure, insurance and regulation the drone delivery industry may be pipped to the post by passenger carrying ‘taxi’ drones, due to the current legislation that is already in place.
Speaking to CDP, he said: “If you think about cargo and passengers, often the infrastructure is the same and sometimes it is a little bit different. We have the debate endlessly, is it cargo drones or is it the passenger drones that are going to come first? Part of me says it is going to be the cargo drones, they’re smaller, more manageable and the consequence of them going wrong is less because moving people around if obviously complicated.”
“On the flip side of that is, if you’ve got a VTOL, a passenger carrying VTOL, it is essentially an electric helicopter. So, if it has the Civil Aviation Authority sign off, you have the framework in which to fly it. At the moment, we don’t have the framework to fly BVLOS drones in London, but we do have a framework which says you can fly a helicopter in London and if it’s just an electric helicopter and a company can get their certification which they are well on their way to doing, you can fly that in London.”
Walker has a real-estate background in London and founded Skyports 18 months. His team now operate 15 Skyports across London and are looking to expand further in the coming years.
He said: “We’ve been looking at Manchester but the UK is quite a funny country compared to others because all of our population is in London, it’s ten times bigger than any other city we’ve got which is not the same as a Germany or a France or a US so the UK is a bit of a quirky situation because, if you go to Manchester, the congestion is not actually that bad so building a business case around that becomes a little bit more challenging.
He continued: “Having said that, we are doing some work out in East Anglia, we’re starting to get it off the ground and proven and tested. We think that might be a slightly easier regulatory process that flying a bunch of stuff in the West end.”
Last month CDP reported on the news that Skyports was looking to expand in the Us.
Read more on that story here: