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Uber to launch e-VTOL air taxis

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 27, 2017

First flight of Aurora’s eVTOL aircraft on April 20.

Ride-sharing technology company Uber has announced plans to launch an electric-powered air taxi, or electric vertical take-off or landing (e-VTOL) aircraft, by 2020.

Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden said Dallas and Dubai would be the first two global cities to see its Uber Elevate concept launched, in which small e-VTOL aircraft would be operated commercially from established vertiports as on-demand air taxis.

“If we can provide ubiquity and low cost, people will actually dispense with their privately owned vehicle,” said Holden at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas, Texas on April 26.

“In the near term, an e-VTOL air taxi’s cost per passenger mile could be as low as US$1.32, comparable to the present cost of an UberX transport. In the long term, the cost per passenger mile could fall below the variable cost of a passenger car, which could encourage more people to rethink car ownership altogether.”

Uber also announced it has selected Aurora Flight Sciences to partner with in the development of e-VTOL aircraft for its Elevate Network. Aurora, headquartered in Manassas, Virginia had successfully flown its first e-VTOL concept, based on its XV-24A VTOL military X-plane project currently in development for the US Department of Defense, a week prior to the summit on April 20.


Aurora Flight Service chief executive John Langford was confident the goal of delivering to Uber 50 e-VTOL aircraft for testing by 2020 is “well within reach.”

Holden said on-demand e-VTOL air taxi operations will begin initially with piloted aircraft flying within existing air traffic control systems and hoped its fully-autonomous aircraft would integrate into future traffic management systems.

“We’re going to see how fast we can make this a reality,” said Holden. “We know this is possible, we know this is going to happen.”

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Comments (8)

  • Paul


    Another ripoff from Uber.First take care of your drivers ,then move to aviation.

  • Scott


    This reads like one of those Ryanair press releases where they announce they’ll have stand-up seating on all their planes – in other words a pure publicity stunt. There’s no way they’ll have this flying in 3 years

  • Is this safe to travel in Air taxis.

  • Murray Howlett


    What is its range? What is the recharge time for the batteries? How will they police weight (particularly) and balance issues – both of passengers and luggage?
    It is not quite as simple as with car transport.

  • Mike Tavcar


    I’m a helicopter pilot and I’m somewhat pessimistic about their ability to produce an electric aircraft capable of lifting the payloads involved vertically and furthermore what redundancies are going to be planned to ensure that both passengers and those on the ground are protected. Example if there is an engine power failure how are they going to ensure continued safe flight. Light twin engine helicopters now with powerful turbine engines struggle (read don’t) stay in the hover on one engine.
    It will take much longer than 3 years to develop something safe enough and powerful enough to ensure the redundancies required.

  • Will Small


    Wow, all you guys uneasy about this, best stay that way and leave the vertico taxis to those that want to embrace technology, 10 years ago an electric car would of been deemed stupid. look what Tesla has done. Bring the vertico taxis on!

  • Peter McDougall


    Open your eyes, the real world isn’t stuck back with our constitution that could have never envisaged where we are today, stuck in ground traffic jams doing heads in! Electric VTOL its moving forward with quality systems delivering safe outcomes, and its all happening now, I’ve been personally involved with the development and testing of experimental VTOL aircraft for 25 years.
    My late father once told me as a small child ” Son, in my youth, the best scientists in the world were telling us that we could NEVER go into space due to the power of the gravitational pull, and within my time i saw men walk on the moon!”

  • BigglesofDockalnds


    I agree with the helicopter pilot above, I am a commercial pilot and I can see how it would be possible technically. However, to achieve the safety margins and performance commuters will expect will be the biggest challenge.
    What happens to those aircraft types after an engine failure?, how do they handle?

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