Is the US Really Getting Air Taxis Soon?

The FAA seems to think so

A 3D rendering of an autonomous air taxi
A 3D rendering of an autonomous air taxi

In 2019, it was reported that (albeit for a brief period of time) the cost of an Uber helicopter from Manhattan to JFK was cheaper than an Uber Black ride and only a few dollars more than a regular old Uber X. As Bloomberg noted at the time, for $108.95, riders could get to the airport by air in just eight minutes, which is really something if you’ve ever spent $160 and two hour’s time driving just 15 miles to JFK.

Even still, for many, the idea of taking a helicopter anywhere feels a bit outside the realm of possibility, even in spite of its apparent financial accessibility — for now. According to a new report from Travel Pulse, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is moving forward with plans involving the development of air taxis.

“[T]he FAA has already released a set of blueprints or schematics on how it would navigate the airspace increase,” Rich Thomaselli wrote. “Some companies who have an air taxi in development said they would like to deliver it by 2025. Clearly, the FAA is preparing for such an eventuality.”

Unlike planes, the air taxis will “take off and land critically,” and although they’ll occupy the same airspace, they allegedly won’t interfere with commercial flights. (Assuming the air traffic controller shortage is resolved by then, of course.) Though, per The Wall Street Journal, they likely won’t be used to connect more major airports with city centers until they become more common.

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“The operational blueprint is a key step — along with certifying the aircraft and pilots — in the FAA’s effort to safely usher in and support this next era of aviation,” the FAA said. “The blueprint aims to provide a common frame of reference to the FAA, NASA and the industry to help guide their research and decision-making.”

United Airlines, for one, is already betting on its success in the United States, announcing plans for its own air taxi service. There is even talk of fully automated vehicles being implemented further down the line. But this all begs the question: how will air taxis fare in the court of public opinion?

The fact is, it’s highly unlikely that air taxis, fully automated or not, will ever be able to function as proper “taxis,” insofar as they can’t pick you up from your front door to bring you to where you need to go. But if both money and time savings are on the line, who knows?


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