Supernal’s vertiport lobbying push runs up against industry resistance

Other eVTOL companies say vertiport legislation promoted by Supernal is overly broad and could have unintended consequences.

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Release Date
April 12, 2024
Supernal’s vertiport lobbying push runs up against industry resistance

Advanced air mobility legislation is not an obvious subject for political drama, but in early March, two highly charged scenes unfolded in the chambers of the Florida Legislature. During a Senate session on March 5, State Sen. Gayle Harrell (R) rose to introduce her Senate Bill 1362, which amended a companion House Bill 981 by adding language that would prohibit cities and counties from granting an exclusive right to any vertiport owner or operator.

“You remember the cartoon ‘The Jetsons’?” she began brightly. “Well, they’re about to become a reality in Florida. And eVTOLs, electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles, are indeed a reality, and we want Florida to be ready for that.”

Harrell’s amendment seemed reasonable on the surface: Surely the prevention of vertiport monopolies would be in the public interest? Yet Harrell immediately faced pointed questioning from State Sen. Jason Pizzo (D), who was aware that the language in her amendment had been opposed as overly broad by a sizable coalition of eVTOL and vertiport developers. Pizzo referenced a Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Working Group on AAM with representatives from many of those companies.

“I think there’s a total of 13 entities in that group,” he said. “The basis of this amendment really is for one particular company out of the 13 that isn’t quite caught up to either the technology or the progress of the other 12 of the same work group, isn’t that right?”

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Harrell professed not to know the intricacies of where various players stand in their experimentation with this new technology. Pizzo persisted: “Over the last few years that we’ve been talking about this ad nauseam, why are so many other entities and companies so far ahead of the other ones that you might be trying to protect?”

“First of all, I don’t accept that I’m trying to protect anyone,” Harrell insisted. “What I am trying to do is make sure there is competition as we go into this new arena of transportation.”

To which Pizzo responded: “Is there a company besides Supernal, owned by Hyundai, that would benefit from this, Senator Harrell?”

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