Flying taxis set to carry passengers from Heathrow


Flying taxis are expected to transport passengers from Heathrow to cities in southern England for the price of an Uber in just four years, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

According to plans, passengers arriving at the airport could take an electric air ‘taxi’ to Canary Wharf in London in just 13 minutes for around £ 50 per passenger. A similar Uber ride costs £ 46.

An air taxi from Heathrow to Cambridge would take 28 minutes and cost £ 58 per person, compared to £ 102 for a 1.5-hour taxi or £ 52 for a two-hour train ride.

In the air: The ambitious project is orchestrated by the British company Vertical Aerospace in partnership with the airline Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow.

The ambitious project is orchestrated by the British company Vertical Aerospace in partnership with the airline Virgin Atlantic and Heathrow.

Vertical Aerospace boss Stephen Fitzpatrick, who previously founded energy supplier Ovo, said he plans to revolutionize the UK transport network by launching a fleet of electric air taxis to transport passengers across the UK United faster and more cheaply than by roads and railways.

Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace estimates that air taxis produce less carbon emissions per mile than electric vehicles or gasoline-powered cars, making them more environmentally friendly than taking an Uber.

In what Mr Fitzpatrick described as a “major milestone” for electric flights, Vertical Aerospace has partnered with Heathrow to help launch the first air taxi flights from the airport by 2025.

Heathrow is investigating how Vertical’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft could fit into existing airlines’ flight schedules and help reduce congestion on surrounding routes.

Vertical’s four-seater VA-X4 will carry passengers arriving at Heathrow to London and satellite cities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Southampton and Portsmouth.

The electric air taxis will be operated by Virgin Atlantic, which has ordered up to 150 battery-powered VA-X4 planes and is in talks to launch a network of Virgin-branded electric planes from Heathrow, Manchester and Gatwick. Other airlines are expected to follow suit as they seek to reduce their carbon emissions.

In addition to airport shuttles, Vertical plans to launch regional air links opening up new routes across the UK, including Belfast to Glasgow, Liverpool to Hull and Aberdeen to Edinburgh.

Its planes can travel over 100 miles before recharging their lithium-ion batteries and have top speeds of 200 miles per hour, making air taxi flights about three times faster than car trips and five times faster. faster than the train.

Company documents show the planned fare for a 50-minute trip from Liverpool to Hull could cost £ 112 and a 41-minute flight from Cardiff to Plymouth would cost £ 89.

Electric planes will produce around 5 kg of carbon per passenger on a 90-mile flight, compared to 11 kg for an electric vehicle and 38 kg for gasoline-powered cars.

Air taxis will take off and land at “vertiports” housing runways, passenger terminals and recharging points, which could be based at airports, rural airfields, motorway service stations or on the roofs of train stations and public transport facilities. office buildings. The downtown sites could be used for short-haul, on-demand “air taxi” services, praised by an app.

Mr. Fitzpatrick said: “This next-generation aircraft bridges the gap between communities separated by inconvenient public transportation or impassable terrain, facilitating new regional networks. Because unlike helicopters they are safe, clean and quiet, they will also bring huge benefits to densely populated cities: more convenience and less congestion. ‘

Vertical Aerospace has taken $ 5.4 billion in orders worldwide for up to 1,350 aircraft from customers including aircraft rental giant Avolon, American Airlines and helicopter maker Bristow. The Spanish Iberojet, which is part of the Avoris tourist group, has ordered up to 100 planes which will fly from island to island between the Balearic Islands and the Canary Islands.

It expects to be fully certified by 2024 to strict EASA safety standards, similar to large commercial airlines and 100 times safer than helicopters.

Futuristic: air taxis will take off and land in the “vertiports” housing the runways, passenger terminals and charging points

Futuristic: air taxis will take off and land in the “vertiports” housing the runways, passenger terminals and charging points

Its investors include engine maker Rolls-Royce, industrial giant Honeywell and Microsoft, which are among those who will support Vertical’s $ 398 million fundraising by year-end via a 2-year listing. , $ 2 billion on the New York Stock Exchange. The company aims to manufacture 10,000 planes by 2031, generating a turnover of £ 30 billion.

Investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates that the air taxi market will be worth $ 3.7 trillion worldwide by 2050, when there could be 58,795 flights each year.

Other pioneering companies are California-based Joby Aviation and German aerospace company Lilium.

British entrepreneur Martin Warner is raising $ 25 million to develop the prototype of his Y6S Plus vertical take-off and landing electric aircraft into a fully certified six-seater aircraft. Once in production, it hopes to launch shuttles on nine routes across Greater London, with three planes on each route, before expanding to Paris and the United States.

Mr Warner said: “Flying cars will no longer be the preserve of science fiction films, they will be in the skies above us, using electrical energy to hover, take off and land vertically.” And that will start to happen in the next three to five years.

Mr. Fitzpatrick added: “Aviation is on the cusp of a new revolution, a revolution destined to transform the industry much like Whittle’s jet engines 90 years ago.”

Chris Annetts, Chief Strategy Officer, Heathrow, said: “This emerging technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution on local roads, while providing passengers with a first-class experience at the cutting edge of modern technology. . “

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