Published: Wed, June 12, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Uber Air announces first worldwide city to trial flying taxis

Uber Air announces first worldwide city to trial flying taxis

Uber is set to use Melbourne as an global pilot city for its planned air taxi service, with test flights to begin as early as 2020.

Susan Anderson, regional general manager for Uber Australia, said she expected other Australian cities to adopt the service.

This week, Uber announced it was adding new aircraft partners to the program, including Pennsylvania-based Jaunt Air Mobility, which will produce a rotor- and fixed-wing light aircraft.

Last month, a class action lawsuit was filed against Uber, on behalf of thousands of Australian taxi and hire auto drivers, for allegedly operating illegally which provided the company with an unfair competitive advantage.

Although Anderson said the Victorian government has been "highly supportive", Uber's breakthrough into the state was not met without regulatory troubles.

He said the 19 kilometre journey from Melbourne's central business district to the airport would take some 10 minutes with Uber Air, down from up to an hour by vehicle.

Called Uber Copter, the service will launch on July 9 and offer helicopter rides between Lower Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport.

Testing is set to begin in 2020, with further testing allegedly happening in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2023.


In Melbourne, Uber is working with Westfield shopping centres owner Scentre Group, which has seven centres in the city, to help deliver its service.

Uber Air is touted by the company as an "urban aviation ride-sharing product".

"This, coupled with Melbourne's unique demographic and geospatial factors, and culture of innovation and technology, makes Melbourne the flawless third launch city for Uber Air".

The Uber Air service is created to work in tandem with Uber's auto service as a "multimodal" option that helps speed passengers to their destinations. "The closest equivalent technology in use today is the helicopter", the company has previously observed.

Macquarie's role would be around "the development and electrification of the skyports that will support" Uber's air taxis.

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said earlier Tuesday that the helicopters will eventually be replaced "by a generation of electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing vehicles".

"In the coming years, with Uber Air, we want to make it possible for people to push a button and get a flight", he said.

Cynthia Whelan, chief strategy officer at Scentre Group, which owns and operates Westfield shopping centres, said the announcement "recognises the strategic locations of our Westfield centres, which are regarded as integral social infrastructure due to their close proximity to customers, communities and transport hubs".

Like this: