Volatus To Build Vertiport At Central Pennsylvania Airport

Volatus says its modular vertiports can be quickly assembled on-site in a matter of days.

Credit: Volatus

Volatus Infrastructure has announced plans to build a new vertiport at Bellefonte Airport in Central Pennsylvania, located just 10 mi. from Penn State University, part of the company’s plan to build out a network of facilities to accommodate the anticipated arrival of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

The project will see Volatus construct a public use, FAA-compliant vertiport with just one landing pad and a single charging station at launch, which is expected later this year, although the company says the vertiport will be able to eventually scale up to eight landing pads and charging stations.

Speaking to Aviation Week, Volatus Infrastructure co-founder and CEO Grant Fisk said the choice of Bellefonte Airport, in mostly rural central Pennsylvania, “is very strategically located” due to its roughly equidistant proximity to several major markets across the Northeastern U.S. The planned facility at Bellefonte Airport will be the second permanent eVTOL vertiport from Volatus, which is also constructing a vertiport at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

“At Volatus, our driving philosophy is accessibility. This isn’t just a big city thing–we want to bring access to eVTOL technology to everyone,” Fisk says. “We know if we can prove that eVTOLs work in rural and suburban locations like Oshkosh or Bellefonte, then surely they can work anywhere. It’s not just going to be for people in major markets to avoid sitting in traffic—this is about impacting everyday people’s lives for the better.”

The vertiports from Volatus come in three main design configurations: 500 sq. ft., 1,000 sq. ft. and 2,000 sq. ft. Because of their modular design, they can be quickly constructed “in a matter of days,” Fisk says, with the flexibility for owners to easily scale them up in size to accommodate growth in eVTOL operations. But even the smallest facilities with a single landing pad and charging station will be able to process “hundreds, if not thousands” of passengers per day, according to Fisk, with dozens or even hundreds of flights per day using a single landing pad. The vertiports are also cheap to construct, with the smallest model going for “just a few hundred thousand dollars,” he adds. 

Another key aspect of the Volatus business model is that all landing pads and charging stations are vehicle-agnostic, something that Fisk says will be a necessary condition to enable high-volume eVTOL operations in the future. 

“It does not make any financial sense to build a vertiport that’s going to have a dozen different charging stations. That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Fisk says. “The industry is going to have to standardize. We think there are probably going to be super regional charging protocols: a U.S. standard, a European standard, a Southeast Asian standard, etc.”

With leading eVTOL startups like Archer Aviation and Joby Aviation looking to begin commercial operations in 2025, Fisk sees a danger that infrastructure will prove a gating factor that could limit the expansion of the sector for years to come–delaying critical public benefits brought on by lower-cost, greener and time-saving advanced air mobility (AAM) technologies. 

“I’m not going to say Mount Everest is the right analogy–but we’re in that neighborhood,” Fisk says of the scale of the infrastructure challenge. “We need to be able to roll out an infrastructure program that can support the industry at the right level from day one. Without that investment today, we’re never going to realize these huge benefits, whether we’re talking GDP, increased productivity or even life-saving measures like emergency medicine and firefighting.”

“That’s why it’s so important that our vertiports are scalable and affordable, because people don’t have to make a huge upfront investment right now and worry about the return on that investment,” he adds. “Our product will give them the flexibility to continue to grow along with the rest of the industry.”

Ben Goldstein

Based in Washington, Ben covers Congress, regulatory agencies, the Departments of Justice and Transportation and lobby groups.