Government Wants Flying Taxis In Operation By 2028

Commercial flying taxi services could become a reality within the next four years under a new UK government action plan.

The Future of Flight plan, developed with the aerospace industry by the Department for Transport (DfT), sets out a path for future transport including electric flying taxis and autonomous drones that could be used for everything from public transport to policing and critical healthcare deliveries.

The plan sees the developing air technology sector as potentially adding £45 billion to the economy by 2030.

It sets out a timeline for the first piloted flying taxi flight in the UK by 2026 with regular commercial services by 2028.

Concept design of Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 ‘air taxi’. Image credit: Vertical Aerospace

Autonomous flying taxis

A number of companies are developing battery-powered electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that are designed for such purposes, with such vehicles currently making their way through the process of authorisation by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The plan also looks for demonstrations of pilotless autonomous flying taxis to begin by 2030.

The government sees drone deliveries as becoming commonplace by 2027 and believes “crime-fighting drones” and critical 999 deliveries by drone could become a reality by 2030.

Routine emergency service drones could be operating by 2028, the plan says.

A Wing drone prototype is shown carrying a payload. Credit: Alphabet

‘Vertiports’

Drones could also be used to find and repair faults on railways and to provide support for emergency services.

“Cutting-edge battery technology will revolutionise transport as we know it – this plan will make sure we have the infrastructure and regulation in place to make it a reality,” said Aviation and Technology Minister Anthony Browne.

“From flying taxis to emergency service drones, we’re making sure the UK is at the forefront of this dramatic shift in transportation – improving people’s lives and boosting the economy.”

Measures being taken by the government to make the vision a reality include making drone applications and assessments easier and seeking to enable the creation of “vertiports” for eVTOL aircraft by developing certificaiton standards and reviewing the use of existing infrastructure.

Regulatory changes

Skyports Infrastructure reached a deal earlier this month to open the UK’s first flying taxi testbed at the Bicester Motion estate in Oxfordshire by the end of 2024.

The government said it would work with industry partners to trial electric aircraft and to allow drones to operate beyond the visual line of sight.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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