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Economy

Vertiport Under Construction in Rock Island

vertiport site in ri.PNG
DIFCO, Inc.
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the site in Rock Island, just east of the Arsenal Island viaduct, and along Sylvan Slough

Plans are in the works to build a small airport in Rock Island. But instead of planes, the "vertiport" would be for helicopters and drones.

Jake Pautsch, CEO of a Davenport-based company called DIFCO, Incorporated, says at first it would be a takeoff and landing site for medical helicopters because it's centrally located among six hospitals.

"Because in a situation where a medical helicopter encountered bad weather, and obviously if you're transporting a patient, it's not ideal to be taking them to an airport that's very, very far away from a hospital."

The location, at 3050 3rd Avenue in Rock Island, also is far enough away from buildings and other obstacles to provide a safe landing site.

And sometime in the future the vertiport could host battery-powered drones.

"So it would be used by any company that wants to develop their own drone program - whether that be a hospital to deliver medications, or whether it be a company like Amazon or Walgreens that wants to deliver their products."

Eventually Pautsch hopes to build a solar array that would provide electricity to power the un-manned aircraft.