According to Volocopter GmbH, Singapore will offer the world’s first electrically powered air taxi service by the end of 2023.
The German manufacturer is developing the vertical launch boat and plans to start operations within three years of completing flight tests, assessment and certification.
It must first obtain the necessary permits from the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
However, tickets are already on sale. A 15-minute drive costs 300 euros.
While prices are on the steep side, Volocopter said they should drop significantly as flights become more widely available.
Prior to this, Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter, said he expects air taxi rides to be just as affordable as rides in “the next five to ten years”.
He also shared that he envisions the Volocopter being used for multiple purposes – to transport users from one point to another, as a tourist attraction, and even for industrial purposes such as navigating a ship or supporting the construction or agriculture industries.
The vehicle will initially only carry two people – a pilot and a passenger – but could increase to two passengers once the permits for autonomous operation are in place.
In October last year, Volocopter carried out a demonstration flight over Marina Bay.
The first commercial route will likely fly tourists across the same district, and future services could include cross-border travel, the company said.
To support the flights in Singapore, Volocopter is planning to build a team of 50 pilots, engineers and operations specialists.
Maybe grab a piece of the Flying Taxi Pie
Last February, Grab announced it was partnering with Volocopter to conduct a joint feasibility study examining the prospect of urban air mobility in Southeast Asia.
The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to study the most suitable cities and routes for air taxi use, assess the best use cases for air taxis and examine the possibility of joint flight tests.
The results will lay the foundation for both companies to potentially launch air taxi services together in the future.
For Grab, the further development of this project could once again improve the extensive services that they have collected on their regional “super app”.
“Grab has gathered traffic patterns and customer insights in the region that can help our teams develop the most innovative mobility solutions to fill the gaps in the transportation landscape,” said Chris Yeo, head of Grab Ventures.
GrabHeli / Photo credit: Grab
As early as 2017, Grab piloted a helicopter service in Indonesia to overcome the problems of road congestion.
Called GrabHeli, it was offered to selected Indonesian users as part of the start-up’s fifth anniversary celebrations.
Volocopter and Grab is just one of the few companies that has set itself the goal of offering air taxi services in Singapore.
In September 2018, the American manufacturer Bell Helicopter announced its hopes of launching an air taxi service in Singapore by 2025.
According to the company, the possible routes of the service include airports, hotels and hospitals.
“We couldn’t necessarily pick you up at your door, but maybe at a station nearby,” said Chris Schaefer, General Manager of Bell Helicopter Asia.
Selected image source: Velocopter