Airport to go
© Hyundai
April 2021

Airport to go

Ever since Berlin’s failure-ridden BER airport’s story, not only Germans have known that new airport construction projects can devour nearly 15 years of work from the ground-breaking ceremony to completion and incur costs in the billions beyond the original budget. That’s not exactly a perfect example of agile project management.

The airports of the future for air taxis and delivery drones might be a different story. They’re supposed to be flexible and mobile, and look similar to those in this visualization: sci-fi-like landing pads, aka hubs, that can be installed and moved within a few days to places where they’re more urgently needed such as crisis zones, large-scale public events, heavily congested cities, and so on. For Schaeffler, the drone market has high potential. Besides supplying bearings and electric motors for the VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) systems, the people at the global technology group can imagine delivering entire propulsion units for them.

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?

Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter 1907–1954

After a drone has touched down on an elevated platform (with a diameter of just 14 meters / 46 ft), it’s dropped into a hangar, where the batteries are recharged with solar energy and the flying taxis can take up passengers. The project’s initiators refer to it as a zero-emissions airport. Critics of the idea say that it’s too complex and costly, and that plain markings, normal charging columns and a simple hangar would cost a lot less while delivering greater value.

Author Björn Carstens
For his research, journalist Björn Carstens dived deep into the universe of unmanned aerial vehicles.