Korean Air has completed the first demonstration of its comprehensive urban air mobility (UAM) system, using a 5G network to link its in-house UAM operating systems to an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. 

The demonstration was conducted in collaboration with the Hyundai Motor Company, Korea Telecom, Incheon International Airport Corporation, and Hyundai Engineering & Construction and was described by the airline as the first of its kind. 

Part of the Korean UAM Grand Challenge programme organised by the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the demonstration took place over five weeks at the Goheung Aviation Test Centre and is part of the country’s attempt to launch a network of aviation systems operating cargo and passenger services in cities. 

To validate its system, Korean Air demonstrated the reliability of its proprietary UAM Operation Control System and Traffic Management System by carrying out ten scenarios in normal and abnormal situations. 

The data from the tests will be used to improve the safety of the system and inform future UAM operations in “high-density urban environments”. 

As part of the K-UAM challenge, Korean Air has been investing heavily into eVTOL aircraft and UAM operations, signing an agreement with Hyundai Motor Group’s Supernal air mobility company in 2023 to develop the ecosystem necessary for UAM operations and eVTOL vehicles compatible with the Korean UAM environment. 

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UAM investments have also become a key focus more the aviation industry around the globe, with a recent GlobalData report predicting that cargo UAM deployments will begin in the next two years.