But they still have to contend with distractions such as noise and visual clutter. According to the region’s top aviation safety regulator, electric flying taxis could be allowed to take off in European airspace by 2024 or 2025. The vertical take-off, piloted vehicles could be used for commercial purposes and could carry luggage in front of passengers, said Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. According to Ky, autonomous drones will need at least five more years to enter service, followed by larger aircraft.
EASA has just started working with companies on how to deal with unmanned flight, the regulator said. The agency is working on a coordinated approach with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other international regulators.
Autonomous passenger transport is easiest to start with air taxis, “because we are dealing with smaller aircraft,” Ky said. With corporations, “we haven’t gone too far yet because it requires a lot of thinking about how we want to deal with autonomy concepts,” he added.
EASA also published the results of a survey on urban air mobility, in which 4,000 citizens were interviewed in six European cities. It found that 83% of respondents had a positive first attitude to the issue, with uses such as emergency and medical transport receiving strong support.
Aircraft operating in crowded cities are likely to require higher safety standards, and regulators will have to contend with distractions such as noise and visual clutter, Ky said.