A British company says it’s building the world’s first “vertiport” for electric aircraft in Singapore, an early step towards a global network for flying taxis.
Essex-based Skyports Ltd plans to show off the vertical take-off and landing station at Marina Bay during the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress from October 21-25. Germany’s Volocopter GmbH will bring along its electric aircraft for a demonstration flight.
Urban air transport isn’t new — helicopters have been doing it for decades. What’s changing is that better batteries and innovative designs are making it cheaper, cleaner and quieter. Companies are just trying to demonstrate the technology’s capabilities for now, but a report from Citigroup said sales of air taxis could reach $5 billion by the end of the next decade.
“Helicopters have been around a long time but they’re not well used, particularly in cities, because they’re noisy, dangerous and polluting,” Skyports Managing Director Duncan Walker said.
“We’re really trying to make it a form of transportation for anybody, not just the extremely wealthy.”
Citi expects designers to keep tweaking the technology and working with regulators so they can start to offer regular air taxi services from 2025. It could be even sooner, with Uber Technologies targeting launches in Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne as early as 2023. As many as 20,000 electric passenger aircraft could be sold annually by 2030, Citi said in its report.
They’ll start with a range of about 50 miles for journeys of 10-20 minutes—enough to make it worth paying extra to avoid road congestion, according to the investment bank.