What Are Air Taxi’s?
When you hear the term air taxi, you may think of our normal passenger carrier airplanes or even the smaller crafts used for small groups. Though transit in one of those aircraft is normally for longer-distance flights. The term in question today has applications for everyday use. An air taxi is an electric, pilotless, aircraft designed to help move passengers around the city.
Fortune posted an article, “Air taxis are coming sooner than you think, aerospace giant Airbus says“, which made the following statement:
Faster than a car, more exclusive than mass transit, and quieter than a helicopter, electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) are the latest innovation that could revolutionize urban transportation—if they ever get off the ground financially.
Their potential is compelling: Air taxis could substantially cut down the travel time in heavily congested areas, turning a 45-minute trip from downtown Manhattan to JFK International Airport into just five. Developing countries are particularly interested in the technology, given their megacities have often grown faster than the infrastructure can support, with a Chinese company ordering eVTOLs from Germany’s Volocopter on Wednesday.Fortune “Air taxis are coming sooner than you think, aerospace giant Airbus says“
Just hearing the description sparks excitement and curiosity. Imagine ordering your private aircraft to get home after a nice date night. Changing the whole dynamic of commute by dramatically cutting travel time. A few questions that come to mind:
- How safe is this?
- How comfortable are the cabins?
- How high will the taxis be able to go?
- How accessible will this be to everyday people?
- How will this affect the flow of traffic?
- What are costs?
- How much distance can be covered in an air taxi?
- Will designated landing/pickup pads be set or will the air taxi make use of public roads?
- What areas will be serviced?
Only so many of these questions can be answered prior to the release of this exciting innovation. Such as the following excerpt from the same Fortune article:
Its battery can last for 80 kilometers, and landing noise—the most audible to human ears—is expected to top out at 70 decibels, low enough to blend in with the sound of everyday traffic.
“We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of engineering hours on all aspects of eVTOL design, starting from structural mechanics to aerodynamics and electric propulsion,” said Jörg Müller, the company’s head of urban mobility, at an event on Tuesday.
Since public acceptance is as important as developing the technology, according to the company, the Airbus eVTOL should meet the highest standards for safety certification set out by European aviation regulator EASA.
Airbus Helicopter’s Even estimated annual demand could be around about 1,000 eVTOLs, with the company ruling out any plans to move beyond the sale of eVTOLs into operating fleets itself.Fortune “Air taxis are coming sooner than you think, aerospace giant Airbus says“
For now, these answers are enough to let me know that this potential market is being considered very seriously and will more than likely emerge in the next decade. Though, will 2025 truly be the release date? Doubtful.
What Does the Air Taxi Market Takeoff Look Like?
According to an article posted by Business Insider, “Boeing invests a further $450 million in the air taxi startup launched by Google cofounder Larry Page to develop pilotless aircraft“, consumers are not the only ones excited about this next step in transit.
There is a growing appetite for the development of self-flying taxis. Boeing’s commitment comes amid a surge in the number of aviation startups that have attracted billions of dollars of investment.Business Insider “Boeing invests a further $450 million in the air taxi startup launched by Google cofounder Larry Page to develop pilotless aircraft“
With investors and great business minds getting behind this new market, we can hope to see huge changes to how we live in the next decade. I predict that we will see partnerships between big commercial airliners and transit services.
It seems that we are still very early in the process of actually having fleets of air taxis at the ready in major cities. According to the Fortune article, “Air taxis are coming sooner than you think, aerospace giant Airbus says“, only one company was able to test one of these life-size vehicles. The head of development for that company stated that with all rotary-wing aircraft, the complexity of the task grows along with the dimensions of the vehicle.
First company engineers will need to agree on a design to move forward with. The article recorded statements by that same company, saying that they are looking to find a balance between two models. The first generation CityAirbus and the Vahana. This should allow them to find the balance of hovering and forward flight. This will be important to navigate the tight spaces in a city. Unless the plan is to be above the city?
The plan is for the aircraft to be able to operate without a pilot, though it will not start out that way. This is a process that will need to be rolled out slowly. I believe to accomplish this goal, and have passengers comfortable with it, the company will need to have a trusted and credible reputation. Especially if they are first to reach this goal.
Though, like any great innovation, the air taxi will just need time to realize its potential and optimize operating procedures. It certainly wasn’t an easy task getting the first airplane in the sky or the first rocket into space. Nor was it easy to set up regulations and manage air safety. When you are looking to completely alter the way we experience our day-to-day lives, it takes patience and vision.
The understanding that this is a long-term play is represented well in Fortune with the following excerpt:
In July, Porsche Consulting estimated the market for urban air taxies flying 20- to 50-kilometer trips could rise from $4 billion in 2030 to $21 billion annually five years later. Still, the economics are “challenging and fraught with high uncertainty,” the firm said in a July research paper.
“Players in this space need to show serious commitment and need to take the long view lasting at least 10 years, with no positive return on investment in sight before 2030,” it wrote.Fortune “Air taxis are coming sooner than you think, aerospace giant Airbus says“
The excerpt also does represent a potential for a very lucrative market, meaning it is bound to end up very competitive.
What Would You Like From Your Air Taxi Company?
In this time of advancement and modernization of everything, people have certain expectations for the services they pay for. When using their hard-earned money, people want to be comfortable. Creating the right ambiance will be crucial for those companies competing in this market. Even the ones focused on affordability.
Many companies make use of focus groups and experts in the field of design in order to forge an environment that will be associated with their reputation. From color schemes to fabrics, every nook and cranny needs to be tailored to represent the company while passengers fly across the city.
This will be especially important as the air taxi companies gain the ability to operate aircraft without the use of a pilot. Normally, the person operating the commercial vehicle would be able to represent the companies values. Personalize the experience for passengers and smooth over any inconveniences. Without that human element, the company will want to make the environment as inviting and accomodating as possible.
Companies that will have great experience in this field, and that will prove to be very useful, are those like AMI Aero Marine Interior, Inc. With experience catering to big commercial airliners, AMI would be able to give great insight from seasoned professionals as to how to customize the interior. They have already worked with big-name commercial airlines like:
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Air Canada
Having a company like AMI Aero Marine Interior, Inc. working with one of these emerging air taxi companies would give them access to experienced aircraft refurbishers. This would propel that company forward with a great competitive advantage.