Singapore will be hosting the world’s first electric-powered air taxi service by the end of 2023, according to VolocopterGmbH.
The German manufacturer is developing the vertical-takeoff craft and plans to launch operations within three years once it completes flight trials, evaluation and certification.
It needs to first obtain necessary approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
However, tickets are already on sale, with a 15-minute trip costing 300 euros (~S$485).
While prices are on the steep side, Volocopter said that it should significantly decrease once flights become more widely available.
Previously, Volocopter CEO Florian Reuter said that he expects air taxi rides to be as affordable as ride-hailing in “the next five to 10 years”.
He also shared that he imagines the Volocopter will be used for multiple purposes – to shuttle users from one point to another, as a tourist attraction, and even for industrial purposes like ship guidance or supporting construction or agriculture industries.
The craft will initially only carry two persons — a pilot and a passenger — but it could increase to two passengers once approvals for autonomous operations are in.
In October last year, Volocopter conducted a demonstration flight over Marina Bay.
The first commercial route is likely to fly tourists over the same district and future services could include cross-border journeys, said the company.
To support the flights in Singapore, Volocopter plans to build a team of 50 pilots, engineers and operations specialists.
Grab Might Get A Slice Of The Flying Taxi Pie
In February last year, Grab announced that it is partnering Volocopter to conduct a joint feasibility study exploring the prospect of urban air mobility in Southeast Asia.
The two firms have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to look into the most suitable cities and routes to deploy air taxis, evaluate the best use cases for air taxis, and explore the possibility of joint flight tests.
The findings will lay the groundwork for both companies to potentially launch air taxi services together in the future.
For Grab, moving forward with this project could once again beef up the extensive services they have gathered on their regional ‘superapp’.
“Grab has gathered traffic patterns and customer insights in the region that can help our teams come up with the most innovative mobility solutions to plug the gaps in the transport landscape,” said Chris Yeo, Head of Grab Ventures.
Back in 2017, Grab piloted a helicopter service in Indonesia as a means to overcome their road congestion problems.
Called GrabHeli, it was offered to selected Indonesia users as part of the startup’s fifth anniversary celebrations.
Volocopter and Grab is only one of the few firms who have had their sights set on offering air taxi services in Singapore.
In September 2018, American manufacturer Bell Helicopter revealed its hopes of launching an ‘air taxi’ service in Singapore by 2025.
According to the company, possible routes that the service would take include airports, hotels, and hospitals.
“We’d be able to pick you up not necessarily right at your door, but maybe at a station close by,” said Bell Helicopter Asia general manager Chris Schaefer.
Featured Image Credit: Velocopter