United Airlines has spent $15 million in a scheme that it says will provide cheap, electric ‘air taxis’ for those commuting to the airports from busy cities.
The company has ordered 200 streamlined, electric vehicles which resemble a cross between a giant drone and a helicopter. It says the hire of one of the 4-seat air taxis to take a punter to the airport will cost just $100-$150.
A deal was struck with the air taxis’ creator, Eve Air Mobility for an initial 200 of the vehicles followed by the option of a possible 200 more, and United expects to launch the first batch as soon as 2026.
United Airlines Ventures president, Michael Leskinen said the scheme will be another step towards the company’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050:
“Our agreement with Eve highlights our confidence in the urban air mobility market and serves as another important benchmark toward our goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – without using traditional offsets,” he said in a statement.
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He went on to say that some may find the experience “scary” at first and said that the public may take time to “adapt” to the idea:
“It will take time for consumers to adopt this. People are going to have some hesitancy at first.
“It will feel a lot similar to a helicopter ride, it might be scary for some, but this is going to change the way we work and live.”
The idea is to reduce the time taken for plane passengers to get to the airport, to reduce traffic in conjected cities and to reduce pollution.
“Together, we believe our suite of clean energy technologies will revolutionize air travel as we know it and serve as the catalyst for the aviation industry to move toward a sustainable future,” said Leskinen.
This is the second major deal for electric flying taxis that United Airlines has secured. In August, the company ordered 100 more drone-like flying taxi for $10 million from Archer Aviation.
Archer is developing streamline electric planes capable of vertical take-off and landing for widespread use in highly populated areas. It is not yet known whether the vehicles will require a pilot, or if they will be capable of flying remotely via GPS like real drones.
Eve’s version of the taxi has a 40-to-60-mile electric charge range but none of the futuristic vehicles have yet been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
While the concept of flying taxis might seem like a cool idea, United Airline’s use of the vehicles might spur more major companies into using them in the future. Do we really want the sky above cities to resemble a scene from Star Wars?
The concept split the comments section. Sceptic Lisa from New York said:
“How fun, living under helicopters constantly going overhead to chauffeur the rich and powerful to and from the airport… sounds like hell.”
Safian from Fairfax questioned how ‘green’ the vehicles really are:
“I wonder what the recharge efficiency is for the batteries of these vehicles and if the cables, the wires are available for electrical charges. Or will they use the generators used for planes which run on fossil fuels to recharge the vehicles?”
This story syndicated with permission from For the Love of News
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