South Korea’s intent to be at the forefront of urban air mobility (UAM) continues to gain momentum with two leading eVTOL aircraft developers this week announcing partnerships in the country. On September 28, Eve Air Mobility signed a letter of intent with Seoul-based UAM start-up Moviation covering the provision of Eve’s air traffic management (ATM) system. This announcement came four days after Joby Aviation confirmed a collaboration with its investor, SK Telecom (SKT), to jointly participate in the government-led K-UAM Grand Challenge initiative.
The Grand Challenge has been conceived as a large-scale demonstration to support the integration and operation of eVTOL air taxis and other UAM services in Korean cities. Incheon is one of these cities and its director of aviation, Kwang-ho An, explained the approach Korean authorities are taking during a presentation at this week’s Global Urban & Advanced Air Summit in Singapore.
The foundation for the program is the K-UAM Operation Concept 1.0 issued by the Korean government in September 2021. The first phase aims to facilitate the commercialization of UAM services by 2025 with a focus on introducing automation and conducting flights on predefined routes within metropolitan areas.
The government hopes to establish a fixed corridor network by 2030 in metro and urban areas, linking Incheon Island Area, such as the Deokjeokdo archipelago to the Inner Harbour, a Baengnyeongdo circular route, and routes between Gimpo International Airport, Cheongna, Yeongjong, and Songdo. According to Kwang-ho An, the government aims to achieve nationwide deployment of fully autonomous flights by 2035.
For now, the Grand Challenge will be used to showcase the performance and flight characteristics of new air mobility vehicles and benchmark these against existing aircraft. Under the program, the government will develop a new standard for vertiports and define standards for transferring control authority and communications. Public…