Yesterday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new design guidelines for vertiports, the latest type of landing facility for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) operations. Vertiports, similar to heliports, can be created on the rooftops of shopping malls, parking structures and commercial buildings; they can also be built as stand-alone structures.

The FAA guidelines include critical information that designers and builders need to create vertiports that allow for safe takeoffs and landings of eVTOL aircraft. The guidelines also provide strategic information for real estate developers, airports, AAM operators and infrastructure designers and developers to begin planning and ultimately constructing the infrastructure ecosystem that will support safe AAM operations.

The guidelines include:

  • Vertiport dimensions.
  • Elevated vertiports requirements and guidelines, including load bearing capacity for vertiports that may be on top of existing structures.
  • Guidelines on markings, lighting and visual aids that identify the facility as a vertiport.
  • Charging and electric infrastructure requirements for vertiports.
  • On-airport vertiports requirements for adding vertiports to an existing commercial airport, including the required distance of a vertiport from a current runway.

The FAA's design guidelines come at a critical time as eVTOL aircraft are currently in the queue for FAA type and production certification. Several AAM original equipment operators (OEMs) have announced timelines for operations of the four or larger passenger eVTOL aircraft with pilots onboard as soon as 2025. The vertiports and related infrastructure must be in place and certified before AAM operations begin.

One early entrant to create vertiports is Reef Technology, the large parking management company that owns more than 5,000 sites in the United States, has partnered with Archer Aviation and Joby to create vertiports and mobility hubs at its existing parking garages.

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