Málaga Airport prepares an air taxi service with unmanned drones

    Málaga Airport prepares an air taxi service with unmanned drones

    Can you imagine being able to travel from Málaga to Marbella in just 15 minutes with an autonomous air taxi? It sounds like Jules Verne science fiction. However, this could be a reality in a few years, through the use of passenger drones. In this futuristic scenario, Málaga airport is at the forefront of the development of new air mobility in Spain.

    The state-owned company Enaire, which manages air navigation in Spain, subsidiary Crida, were looking for an airport to test this new technology. Málaga was immediately interested, says Raúl Delgado, head of the control tower, who is a pioneer in this field and other areas of aeronautical research. “We have a team that loves aviation and we want to take the city forward, to a position that suits Málaga. The city is a spearhead, it is Enaire’s reference point in Spain for this type of technology”. Test flights will begin in mid-2025, still with a pilot, although it is planned that in the medium term, they will be autonomous.

    Two projects

    The air traffic controllers in Málaga are involved in two leading projects in Europe. The first is a study of the safe coexistence of traditional and new air navigation. This is the initiative known as Ensure, for the control of drone traffic. In this context, procedures, legislation and technology are being developed to facilitate coexistence between drones and aircraft.

    The second is the OperA project. In it, experts study how the airport can be connected to mobility on board aircraft in urban centres, practically door-to-door. So that the two systems can coexist safely.”

    Urban Journeys

    For urban journeys, 100% electric, vertical take-off and landing vehicles will be used. Initially, these aircraft will be manned by a pilot. But in the medium term, it is planned that they will become autonomous. The goal, the expert stresses, is to make this new urban mobility accessible from the air, “not only to the rich”.

    The OperA project also envisages the construction of a ‘vertiport’ at the airport, which is the equivalent of a heliport for drones. There will also be electric charging points with a lot of power. The possibility of an adjacent terminal or the use of the existing terminals is also being investigated. Aena, as the person in charge of the territory, is looking for possible locations.

    Future scenario with drones

    “The passenger arrives on a plane from London, passes through the ‘vertipuerto’ area and gets into a drone that can take him to Granada or Marbella, but also to his hotel in the city centre or to his home in the countryside. The flight from Málaga to Marbella will take between 15 and 20 minutes; and to Granada around 50 minutes.

    Test route between Málaga and Granada

    The first test operations will take place between Málaga and Granada and are scheduled to start in the second half of 2025. The corridors for these operations are already being designed to be compatible with traditional flight paths.

    Within three or four years, the first passengers should be able to board. The regulatory framework in the EU is accelerating because demand and technology already exist. Moreover, there is a lot of interest from companies.

    Málaga is a particularly interesting point for future air taxi operators, due to its ability to connect entire Costa del Sol.

    Source: https://inspain.news

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