Flying taxis ready to take off at the Dubai Airshow

It will take a long time for the flying taxi to finally become a reality, first in the United States, then in the United Arab Emirates and India, but it will be “on the market in 2025,” Billy Nolen, director of safety at Archer Aviation, assured Wednesday.

“What we thought was science fiction has now become reality,” he told AFP at the Dubai Air Show. “It’s happening, it’s real, and you’ll see it in the market in 2025.”

Approval of Archer’s Midnight, a four-passenger electric aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing, is now expected in 2025 from the US Federal Aviation Administration.

This will result in “almost simultaneous” certification in the UAE, said Nikhil Goel, chief commercial officer of Archer, whose main backers include Mubadala, the Emirati sovereign wealth fund.

Flights to the UAE are expected to start in 2026. “We expect demand to be significant,” Mr Goel said.

At the same time, flights will be launched to New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, said Mr. Goel, who called India “a very, very important market for us.”

Test flights for Archer’s Midnight are currently taking place in California, and rival company Joby has conducted its first experimental flights in New York.

Zero emissions

Midnight is equipped with a dozen independently driven propellers, to reduce the risk of failure, and a wing that allows it to hover in the event of engine failure.

It charges in six to seven minutes, enough time to disembark passengers between two trips, and its range is about 160 kilometers at a speed of 240 kilometers per hour.

Controlling the plane is easy, Goel says, saying a 12-year-old could fly it after 20 minutes of simulator training.

The flights would be by reservation and would initially cost between $4 and $5 per passenger per kilometer before being halved within two or three years, he added.

In the Emirates, “demand will be greater than our supply,” Mr. Goel said, assuring that “over time, we will deploy hundreds of devices in the Emirates, which will significantly lower prices.”

Flying taxis will use existing helicopter routes. Theoretically, they are safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

“We have designed this aircraft so that it can fly in urban environments, for example from an airport to a city centre,” Mr Goel said.

“It produces no emissions, it’s completely sustainable, it’s environmentally friendly and its noise is approximately 100 times lower than that of a conventional helicopter. It’s also very friendly to the neighborhood.”

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