26th May 2022

What does it take to build an airport for drones?

A world-first drone airport, Air-One, constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine has recently opened in Coventry, heralding a new age of zero-emission transport. Project Manager, Henry Rowe tells us more about this latest innovation.

Delivered via construction management, Urban-Air Port’s (UAP) Air One in Coventry is an exciting new project that contributes to a greener future by introducing innovative means of transport and solutions to address climate change.

“It was great for Sir Robert McAlpine to be appointed to this project directly due to an existing client relationship”, says Sir Robert McAlpine Project Manager, Henry Rowe. 

“UAP has claimed it will be the first fully operational hub for future electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

“We began planning for the new hub in June 2021, but we couldn’t begin construction works onsite until  January 2022  due to overseas travel restrictions, as we were working closely with supply chain partners based in South Korea. 

“This £1.5m airport saw the project team construct a 45-metre diameter steel frame. This was covered in fabric cladding with a central 17m diameter lifting platform, the specification of which required the platform to be divided into 2 sections that could be used together or independently. We also delivered the air-taxi passenger lounge space, a control and command centre and areas for logistics, retail and security, all within the building.

“Teamwork was crucial for the smooth delivery and saw input from our McAlpine Lifting Solutions team and our Kettering based Plant Department.”

Henry admits he relished the complexity of this project, working with an overseas team on such a pioneering structure build. He said: “This project has been truly unique, bringing together a supply chain and innovative industry experts from across the world, assisting the client in delivering this one-of-a-kind facility. The project had to be designed for disassembly, ensuring that the structure can easily be taken apart and rebuilt elsewhere.

Due to the short-term nature of the structure on a functional car park (which could not be damaged by the works), traditional foundations were not an option, so the design and construction teams came up with an ingenuous solution of adjustable steel base plates and kentledge foundations suitable for all terrains.”

Henry Rowe has been with the business for 3 years and during that time has worked on multiple projects including Island Quarter, Nottingham and Victoria Square, Woking.

From 25th April to 15th May, Air One opened to the public, with tours provided by the Urban-Air Port team.

Visit Urban-Air Port website for more information about this project.

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