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UDOT conducts Utah’s first vertiport demonstration

Air taxi simulation shows how air mobility can integrate with state transportation system

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), in collaboration with Utah State University (USU), successfully launched the state’s first air taxi from a vertiport using a Bell 505 Helicopter yesterday. The demonstration showcased how aircraft can take off and land near homes and businesses with minimal impacts.

“The successful launch of a simulated air taxi from a vertiport gives us a sneak peek at our future,” said Paul Damron, UDOT advanced air mobility manager. “We plan to create a well-functioning transportation system in the air that connects safely and seamlessly with the transportation system on the ground. This vertiport demonstration shows how the integration can be done well.”

The first-of-its-kind demonstration represents the culmination of years of in-depth research to identify suitable locations for vertiports along the Wasatch Front. A vertiport is a defined area used for aircraft that will carry packages and people in the future. Vertiports can range in type from parking lots to the tops of office buildings, and from airports to industrial complexes.

“Our main objective was to identify locations for air taxis and air package delivery that minimize impacts to homes and businesses while balancing safety and opportunity,” said Dr. Brent Chamberlain, USU associate professor in landscape architecture and environmental planning. “We determined there are many places of optimal vertiport sites in the region that could fit nicely into the local community fabric, supporting commerce and essential services.”

In his fiscal year 2025 budget, Governor Spencer Cox identified $1.9 million in state funding for aerial transportation investments and the Utah legislature funded the request. UDOT, in close collaboration with public and private-sector partners, is developing a regulatory sandbox to test advanced air mobility technologies statewide.

“Cutting-edge technologies such as air taxis and package delivery will make all of our lives better,” UDOT Aeronautics Director Matt Maass said. “UDOT is known nationally for our ability to move bridges into place overnight and deliver complex infrastructure projects ahead of schedule and under budget. With this demonstration, we are leading yet another innovation that brings us one step closer to creating an aerial transportation system all Utahns can enjoy.”

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