By Pierre de Fermor
President Aviationclub International
Aviationclub International has been animating a think tank on the exciting issue of an airport in Monaco since November 2011.
Initially the idea was to engineer a virtual airport situated in the Principality, to be uploaded to existing simulation tools so that to allow « sim-pilots » to land in to and take off from such an exciting location.
What were (and still remain indeed) the main assumptions for such an airport to operate ?
Hereunder was the drafted result :
A cross section and lay out scheme imagining such a possible construction, hereunder shown, provide more information on such a floating airport :
Let us now discover a possible location of the airport in the Principality, proposed at a time that did not consider the now planned construction to be built offshore Lavoretto Beach. Monaco airport was then « virtually » located abeam Fontvielle (where the present helipad is situated) and Monaco-Ville ; a position which still makes some sense.
Still, a « real » airport might have to be located further abeam the seashore, this as much as legally and technically possible.
This brings the question : Would actually such an airport, presently so virtual, become a possibility in Monaco ?
Today certainly not, mainly for environmental reasons (sound issues, air pollution, possible disturbance of marine life to be analysed, etc.)
What about tomorrow, and when can be this tomorrow ?
In my opinion, such an airport will happen. The reason is simple, this is indeed the very last luxury life style item that Monaco does not possess yet. A hi-tech General Aviation airport featuring a whole world of luxury boutiques, hotel, flats, offices is almost … a necessity !
When will it happen then ? Well at the time that the Sovereign Prince will agree to it on an environmental point of view (as I do think that economics will not really be questionable here) : That could well become a reality at the time that General Aviation aircraft including business jets will be motorised with electrical engines, something which is going to happen sooner than we may expect :
Airbus is actually envisionning an electric-powered hybrid 80-90-seat regional airliner that will be available to the market in the 2030s.
Much earlier, around end 2019 (which is tomorrow), a new Airbus subsidiary to be soon set up, named VoltAir, will develop and produce the two-seat E-Fan 2.0 and the four-seat E-Fan 4.0, both aimed at the general aviation market, with prices competitive with these of current piston-engine light aircraft (around $300,000).
General Electric have their own development program for electrically powered aviation motors.
Elon Musk, the innovative owner of Tesla cars, powered with electricity, said recently : « I have a design in mind for an electric aircraft ». Before diving in too far, Musk said he was “too busy” to work on the aircraft further today, « but that will happen ».
So the decision might look simple : Yes to such an airport, with an access restricted by regulation to electrical (or solar powered…) aircraft !
Such a floating airport will need some six to eight years to be financed, designed, engineered, built and regulated : Right time to give it some consideration, Your Serene Highness, aviation enthusiast and great fan of the Wild Blue !
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