With zero emissions, zero noise pollution, and seven minutes to JFK airport, it looks like the electric air taxi may win the hearts and minds of the New York City traveler.
Forget Uber and Lyft, there’s a new ride coming to New York City – the electric air taxi.
Two developers of the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft – Joby Aviation and Volocopter – successfully completed their first test flights in downtown Manhattan.
The test flights were the first electric flights to take place in NYC and the first time that Joby Aviation had flown the aircraft in an urban setting.
Joby’s eVTOL was specifically developed for commercial passenger service, or in this case specifically for “electric aerial ridesharing.”
“We plan to make quiet, emissions-free flight an affordable, everyday reality for New Yorkers while significantly reducing the impact of helicopter noise,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation.
As part of the test run, New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams announced that the city would be outfitting the Downtown Manhattan Heliport with electric charging stations to accommodate the aircraft – which is planning a 2025 launch.
“By electrifying one of the most famous heliports in the world, New York is demonstrating global leadership in the adoption of electric air travel,” Bevirt said.
According to Bevirt, it takes only five minutes to recharge the electric aircraft on the landing pad, about the same time it would take to disembark and board new passengers. Once charged, the aircraft uses its electric power to hover, take off, and land vertically.
The Brussels-based Volocopter was equally excited to showcase its Volocopter 2X model with the Manhattan skyline and Brooklyn Bridge as its background.
“A New York City flight has always been on Volocopter’s mind when designing an eVTOL that could be safe and quiet enough to fly its busy skies, Volocopter's Managing Director Christian Bauer said.
Volocopter said the air taxi will help to reduce congestion "while still meeting the transport needs of one of the busiest cities in the world."
The eVTOL maker has already flown a test run in the populated metropolis of Singapore back in October 2019, although that inaugural flight only lasted a quick 2 minutes.
If you’ve ever lived or visited New York City, getting to and from the airport is a daunting task, as public transportation is indirect and time-consuming,, while taxi rides can take even longer depending on traffic conditions.
The eVTOL can get you from downtown Manhattan to JFK Airport, one of the main international airports serving the city, in about seven minutes, a far cry from a trip that could easily take 2 hours.
What’s more, the cost of the air taxi ride is expected to be similar to other ride sharing apps.
Bevirt also thanked Delta Air Lines, who is backing the company’s expansion into the air taxi market by investing in the service infrastructure at both LaGuardia and JFK hubs in New York.
The piloted eVTOL craft can fit four passengers and feels similar to an SUV, according to Joby.
Its six electric motors are optimized for rapid, back-to-back flights and can fly up to 100 miles on a single charge, covering 99% of all trips taken today across New York City’s five boroughs, the company states.
To combat noise pollution, in 2022, the California-based company collaborated with NASA to measure the aircraft’s acoustics in an effort to minimize background noise when flying in densely populated areas, such as NYC.
NASA recorded the electric craft at an altitude of 1640 feet, registering the sound at 45.2 A-weighted decibels (dBA) – quieter than a similar typical conversation, Joby said.
Joby is expected to begin the service once it receives the last two certifications (out of five) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
American rival, Archer Aviation, announced plans to operate its own eVTOL air taxi route between downtown Manhattan and Newark Liberty International Airport.
That flight into New Jersey is expected to take 10 minutes, according to the firm. Archer is also targeting a launch from the infamous heliport in collaboration with United Airlines in 2025.
This fall, Joby Aviation delivered its first electric aircraft to the US Airforce as part of a $131 million contact with the US Department of Defense.
Joby also announced plans to build a 500 million dollar facility capable of manufacturing five hundred eVTOLs per year in Dayton, Ohio.
Volocopter said it expects its final certification for its commercial eVTOL aircraft, the VoloCity, from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2024, and is in the process of being validated by the FAA to operate in the US.
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