The region’s first “vertiport,” or airport for vertical takeoff aircraft, could be developed at Palm Beach International Airport.
If the project is successful, Florida commuters could soar above congested highways on zero-emissions jets.
The Palm Beach County Commission on Oct. 19 will consider a lease at PBI with Madrid-based air taxi startup Ferrovial, which has its U.S. headquarters in Austin, Texas. The 4.7-acre site would be developed as a “vertiport” with at least $7 million in capital investments. The terminal would have two spaces for takeoff and landing of the company’s electric-powered Lilium eVTOL aircraft. Ferrovial is developing the vertiports in partnership with Germany-based Lilium GmbH, which is developing the aircraft.
The company must obtain FAA approval for its new aircraft as a condition of the 20-year lease. The annual rent would be $154,012. It would have 36 months to complete construction for the structure, which would be located on the northeast corner of the airport.
The project would have 20% participation from local small business enterprises. It would create about 150 jobs, according to a presentation by the company.
In January, Ferrovial and Lilium announced a deal to develop 10 vertiports with its EV aircraft to connect major cities across Florida.
“Our strategy to bring high-speed transportation networks to an entire region is being brought to life in Florida, and Ferrovial is the ideal partner with their unrivalled expertise in airport construction and operations around the globe,” Lilium Chief Operating Officer Remo Gerber said in the release. “Nearly all 20 million Floridians will live within 30 minutes of our vertiports and the 140 million annual visitors to the Sunshine State will have a high-speed option available to travel to their destinations.”
According to documents Ferrovial submitted to the county, the seven-seat Lilium eVTOL would have a 155-mile range and a top speed of 175 miles per hour. They are designed to be quieter than a typical plane.
The presentation to the county includes a preliminary map of veriports in Florida. The other terminals were in Miami, the Keys, near Fort Myers, on the Sun Coast, Tampa, Orlando, and Melbourne. From West Palm Beach, the aircraft could reach Miami in 20 minutes, Orlando in 50 minutes or Tampa in 60 minutes.