Several air taxis are currently in development across the world but one company in particular is inching closer to take-off as Airbus flew its new 'CityAirbus' taxi in public for the first time last week.
A CityAirbus probably means nothing to you now unless you're an aviation expert but soon you might come to recognise the name as easily as you would Uber and Lyft. It refers to the flying taxi that Airbus is currently developing to allow for speedy and more direct air travel for passengers in major cities across the globe, bypassing bottlenecks and traffic jams in rush hour to reach destinations like airports and train stations in a jiffy.
Last week Airbus flew the eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft) in public for the first time – after more than 100 private test flights – at a demonstration in its Donauwörth factory in Germany. The vehicle is equipped to carry four passengers comfortably (ideal for ridesharing) and can travel up to 75 miles (120 km) per hour. The engine is fully electric and battery powered making it environmentally friendly and its four-ducted propeller configuration creates less noise than a traditional helicopter.
There's no confirmed date for when it will be in regular use – air taxi companies face rounds of testing and sign-offs from officials before they can even think about taking to the skies – but when it does eventually launch it will initially be pilot-operated before gradually evolving to become a fully-autonomous flight.
Airbus has competition from the likes of Uber Air, who announced plans last year to expand its flying taxi service to Australia. Uber Air is expected to launch in 2023, with Melbourne joining Dallas and Los Angeles as pilot locations for the service.