The air taxis are still in testing and do not carry passengers, but a vertiport has already been prepared for them. The UK’s Urban-Air Port has opened its first Air One vertiport in Coventry, providing landing space for air taxis and eVTOLs, as well as a transfer facility for future passengers. The vertiport functions as a transport hub, meaning that electric aircraft can charge their batteries at this location in addition to picking up passengers and cargo, but the charging points provided can also be used by passing electric cars.
Greenland would also introduce electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxis, with Air Greenland using Vertical Aerospace VX4 aircraft from leasing company Avolon to operate a shuttle service between the island’s municipalities.
It is no small risk to embark on such a large project when the regulatory framework is still very sketchy. It is likely that new standards will have to be developed for airport construction, and that air traffic management will become much more complex than it is now, with the need to regulate an airspace that will be shared with planes and helicopters not only by drones but soon also by flying cars, Nikkei points out.
The planned unmanned aeroplanes will be able to lift much heavier goods into the air than conventional aircraft, thanks to a unique body design. Air transport is currently the fastest way to transport goods, but also the most expensive, compared to the extremely slow but cost-effective water transport. Californian start-up Natilus is trying to bridge the gap with an unmanned aircraft that, thanks to its mixed-wing body, will be able to carry 60 percent more cargo than an aircraft of the same size.
The Czech startup Zuri, which develops eVTOLs, started the first tests of its long-range cruise aircraft last year, which were all successful. The ambitious company has unveiled its second-generation design, which features a completely different, much more modern drive system than previous prototypes.
Air taxis will revolutionise urban transport worldwide. Drone transport could become commonplace in many places in the next decade. The first vehicles will only carry luggage, but from then on there will be no stopping them – we could be travelling in flying taxis by the end of the decade. But how ready are different countries and regions to launch this service?