HomeAutonomous VehiclesSK Telecom-led consortium inks deal for air taxi pilot program

SK Telecom-led consortium inks deal for air taxi pilot program


SK Telecom said that the UAM pilot will be carried out in Jeju, one of South Korea’s main tourist attractions


An urban air mobility consortium led by Korean carrier SK Telecom and Hanwha Systems has inked a partnership with the Jeju Special Self-Governing Province with the aim of launching an air taxi pilot program, according to local press reports.

The resort island of Jeju is one of South Korea’s main tourist attractions.

The K-UAM Dream Team Consortium, comprising SK Telecom, Hanwha Systems, the Korea Airports Corp., the Korea Meteorological Institute and LX, a state-run land information provider, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the target of launching the commercial pilot project on Jeju Island in 2025.

“We will turn Jeju Island, an eco-friendly tourist attraction, into the main game changer for the future mobility service by growing the region into an innovative base for [urban air mobility],” SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang reportedly said.

Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will establish vertical take-off and landing ports and a traffic management system to connect Jeju International Airport with major tourist spots in the region.

The deal also stipulates that the Jeju provincial government will provide sites for UAM operations and infrastructure and will also offer administrative support to create a UAM ecosystem on the island.

SK Telecom, KAC and Hanwha Systems have been working together for the development of this UAM initiative since last year and formed the K-UAM Dream Team consortium in April with the Korea Transport Institute and Korea Meteorological Institute.

For the pilot project on Jeju, SK Telecom will provide the UAM service, which is being jointly developed with Joby Aviation, a U.S. company with headquarters in Santa Cruz, California. SK Telecom will also oversee the development and management of the mobility platform service and network system.

KAC will establish take-off ports for the air taxis and monitor them in the air using existing flight safety infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Hanwha Systems will help develop, operate, and manage the air taxi itself, including helping the consortium to develop navigation and control solutions.

In February, SK Telecom had partnered with U.S. aerospace company Joby Aviation to establish an air taxi service in South Korea.

Other multi-company consortiums are also pursuing similar projects in South Korea.

A consortium comprising LG Uplus, Kakao Mobility and GS Caltex recently signed an agreement with the Busan Metropolitan City to launch a similar commercial UAM service.

South Korea’s transportation ministry is currently evaluating candidates to participate in the K-UAM Grand Challenge, a government-led demonstration program that has the main goal of testing UAM vehicle safety and traffic management capabilities for commercial services. The ministry said it aims to announce select consortiums to participate in the first stage of the initiative in November.

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