Firstco developing vertiport control room software


UK-based transport solutions software developer Firstco is developing control room software to assist with eVTOL operations at vertiports.

The firm has been integrating control room applications for the transportation sector for over 20 years. Its solutions assist operations at major airport terminals, automated people mover systems (such as monorails) and rail networks — including Heathrow Airport, Transport for London and London Underground. 

AAM operations require a network of vertiports for the aircraft to takeoff and land. These vertiports, like a heliport or airport, need software applications to manage traffic. According to Firstco, Vertiport designs will come in various forms in accordance with location and purpose. Some will be part of large transport hubs located at existing transport terminals, others will be smaller, standalone operations at inner city or rural destinations.

Firstco said it has been tackling the challenge from two fronts. Firstly, by designing scalable back-end control and monitoring systems suitable for vertiports of different sizes. These are built around commercial off-the-shelf technology and will be interoperable with different front-of-house devices such as security and passenger information systems. Secondly, Firstco has been developing a centralised vertiport management system that enables the remote control and monitoring of multiple vertiports.

Aaron Erwin, systems engineer, Firstco, said: “We believe that the typical Vertiport business case cannot support on site services often found at airports, instead, Vertiports will need operations like that of rail stations. They will need to rely on remote control and monitoring of their infrastructure systems from a centralised operations room that supervises multiple Vertiports.”

Firstco believe the geographically disbursed nature of vertiports mean a fresh approach will need to be taken to design, operations, and maintenance. Due to their size unable to rely on the operations and maintenance (O&M) services strategy often found at airports, instead they will need to rely on remote control and monitoring of their systems from a centralised operations room. That room would oversee multiple vertiports.

Vertiports will act much like a rail network in terms of size, operation, and scheduling, according to Firstco. Lessons can be learnt from both the aviation and rail sectors to develop a solution bespoke for vertiport needs.

Take a virtual tour of the Firstco Vertiport Control Room and read more information here.