Airbus and the RATP have published a study assessing the feasibility of operating a flying taxi service in the Ile-de-France region. The aerospace company and the French state-owned transport operator announced in mid-May that they have joined forces for a project that would see noise- and pollution-free flying taxis serving around a dozen heavily frequented sites in the area. The service would cost roughly the same as a chauffeur-driven car.
Photo credits: Airbus
The RATP and Airbus announced on Wednesday 15 May that they have entered into a partnership that will see them work together on the possibility of setting up a flying taxi service. The project aims to “study the integration of flying vehicles in the urban transport environment”. As reported by Le Parisien, work is already under way in the Ile-de-France region, in the shape of a “feasibility study on urban air mobility services”. The initial conclusions should be made available by the end of 2019 at the latest.
A widespread service
The people behind the project already have a good idea of what is possible. “Without wishing to prejudge the results of the study, it’s fairly safe to say that there won’t be 3,000 landing points in Ile-de-France,” said Mathieu Dunant, the RATP’s Director of Innovation. “There’s more likely to be a few dozen, at major transport hubs such airports, La Défense and Massy, as well as the main tourist areas.”
The plan raises the issue of where vertiports – the areas used by VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft – will be located. The RATP is planning to use some of its sites, including 25 bus depots that are currently in the process of being remodelled to enable charging of its electric vehicles, and the stations in the regional express network (RER).
Environmentally friendly aircraft
As for the exact nature of the region’s future transport service, it is still very much “up in the air”, largely because regulations are likely to change significantly in the future. The two partners are planning ahead however. “We’re working with governmental agencies to push the regulations along, like we did for electric buses and self-driving shuttles,” said the RATP.
Other aspects of the project are much clearer. Airbus and the RATP have announced, for example, that their aim is to fly silent, non-polluting aircraft made by the manufacturer at 150km/h. “A number of international studies have estimated the price to be €1 or €2 a kilometre, which is similar to the service provided by taxis and chauffeur-driven cars,” explained Dunant, before adding that the aim is make the service affordable. “Though flying vehicles won’t replace buses or metros, this won’t just be a service for the fortunate few.”
Cover photo credits: Airbus
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