Everglades Jetport ready to begin unmanned flight testing


The supersonic airport that never was could become a testing ground for unmanned autonomous aircraft in Florida.

A Miami-Dade county commission vote has directed the mayor to find a site for flight tests and report back in 45 days. The legislation from commissioner, Jean Monestime cited the Everglades Jetport, aka officially the Dade-Collier Training and Transportation Airport, as “available and appropriate” for tests.

The Everglades Jetport, conceived in 1968, was supposed to be an airport five times the size of New York’s JFK — largely handling supersonic airliners.

However, a 1969 report stated that the project would “destroy the South Florida ecosystem and thus the Everglades National Park”. Backed by local residents and activists, the report led to the Everglades Jetport Pact, which in 1970 brought all construction to a halt.

Now the cutting edge of aerospace technology could be returning to the site, this time in the form of unmanned, autonomous aircraft.

Miami-Dade’s hunt for a testing site follows a July trip to Europe by 15 country transportation officials who met with firms including Eve Air Mobility. In March, Eve unveiled a consortium of UAM organisations to develop a concept to fly between Miami International Airport and the Miami Beach Convention Center.

The county legislative package did not mention Eve or flights linking the centre and airport. It says UAM “would be an efficient transportation system that utilises highly automated aircraft that will operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.” It says such a system could reduce traffic congestion and commuting times.

The legislation says using the Everglades Jetport or another site as an unmanned traffic management testing facility would position Miami-Dade at “the forefront of the emerging air technologies”.