Seoul Picks Routes For Korean UAM Flights

Seoul’s metropolitan government has selected routes for urban air mobility (UAM) demonstration flights in 2024-25 as part of South Korea’s K-UAM Grand Challenge.

The Grand Challenge is intended to commercialize urban air taxi flights in Korea by 2025. Following the demonstration flights, the city government plans to introduce a tourism service along the Han River, which flows through Seoul.

The main demonstration routes will connect Gimpo International Airport with Yeouido island, Seoul’s main banking district, a flight of 18 km (11 mi.) along the Han, and the Kintex convention center, a 14-km flight across the river. 

Demonstration flights will begin with an 8-km semi-urban route along the Ara Waterway from the Drone Testing and Certification Center to Gyeyang New Town in Incheon on the outskirts of Seoul. A fourth, 14-km route is planned from Seoul’s Jamsil Heliport to Sueso Station along the Tancheon river.

The Seoul metropolitan government plans to review the location of vertiports for commercialization of UAM passenger services after completion of the second phase of the K-UAM Grand Challenge. The government will also review plans to launch a tour service along the Han River.

Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in February selected five consortia to participate in the Grand Challenge. Agreements were signed with consortia led by mobile communications companies SK Telecom, KT and LG UPlus, car rental company Lotte Group and Korean Air Lines (KAL).

Phase 1 of the Grand Challenge will involve flights in a rural area at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute’s flight test center in Goheung in the south of Korea. The flights are planned to begin in August and continue to the end of 2024.

Phase 2 will involve semi-urban and urban test flights and is planned to run from July 2024 to June 2025. Only consortia that graduate from the first phase will participate in the second phase, which will include the demonstration flights in Seoul.

SK Telecom is teamed with Joby Aviation, Hanwha Systems and Korea Airports. KT leads a team including automaker Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Engineering & Construction. LG UPlus is partnered with Kakao Mobility and GS Engineering & Construction. The Lotte team includes operator MintAir. KAL is teamed with Incheon International Airport, Daewoo Engineering & Construction and Jeju Air.

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.