Current developments in the United States provide signals that flying taxis could be a step closer to becoming a reality.
A new set of rules were published by US air regulators on Monday which formally added these flying taxis to the list, which combine helicopter and plane characteristics, to the list of regulated aircraft.
The update is required before companies can offer flights to customers.
The move comes as companies increase their investments in the new technology, which has been billed as the future mode of transportation.
As major airlines place orders and investors bet on a new crop of start-ups, money has been pouring into the sector.
The new aircraft, also known as an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, can take off and land without requiring a runway and can travel long distances like a plane.
They machines also make use of electric motors, which reduces noise and pollution when compared to conventional planes.
It has been suggested that they could aid in reducing traffic congestion in congested cities without being prohibitively costly for customers as a service. Proponents of such taxis have also proposed them to be used as a means of transporting cargo.
In Europe, the industry is hoping to get flying taxis off the ground in time for the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Within three years, one might be able to book a flying taxi.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which has faced industry pressure to clarify flight rules, announced on Monday that it was proposing to broaden its definition of air carriers beyond airplanes and helicopters, adding “powered lift” to the list.
The move was described by the agency as “an important step toward making commercial air taxi operations a reality.” The rules will now be subject to public comment before going into effect.
“This powered-lift definitions rule lays the foundation that will allow operators to use powered-lift aircraft,” it said. “This is important because our regulations have to cover powered-lift aircraft for them to be able to operate, including commercially.”
The agency also stated that it expects to publish proposed rules for flying such aircraft in the summer of 2023. These rules will detail the criteria that companies must meet in order to obtain pilot licenses and begin operations.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s vice president of engineering and maintenance, Walter Desrosier, called Monday’s action an “absolutely essential first step” that shows the FAA is committed to making progress on the issue.
“This is very very positive progress, but the details are still to come,” he said.
Most analysts in the United States do not expect flying taxis to take off until at least 2024 or 2025, owing to ongoing debate over how to regulate the new machines, which will encounter both local and national regulatory issues.
Despite the uncertain timeline, United Airlines and Delta are among the major corporations that have recently committed millions of dollars to the concept. Hundreds of companies are competing for a piece of the action around the world.
Many of those companies, according to Robin Riedel, a partner at McKinsey and co-leader of the firm’s Center for Future Mobility, are likely to fail, citing the technical challenges they face, as well as the task of gaining public trust and lowering costs sufficiently to make flying taxis more widely affordable.
He anticipates that such travel will be limited to a few cities and routes until after 2030, primarily for ultra-wealthy or business passengers.
“Nobody wants to build another toy for the rich – there’s a very limited market for that,” he said. But, he added, “as a society and as an industry we have to be realistic.”
However, he believes that the FAA’s efforts to incorporate the new aircraft into their regulatory framework may be a sign of a prosperous future. Drone regulation, on the other hand, has typically occurred as a result of companies obtaining one-time exemptions from existing rules, he said.
“The fact that the FAA is going through the trouble of making this regulation is a very encouraging sign that not only is this industry coming but it’s big enough and stable enough to justify this kind of rule-making,” he said.
(Adapted from BBC.com)
Categories: Economy & Finance, Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Sustainability, Uncategorized
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