By Richard Weiss
(Bloomberg) -- Singapore is set to host the world’s first electric-powered air taxi service by the end of 2023, according to Volocopter GmbH, which is developing the vertical-takeoff craft.
The German manufacturer is committed to starting operations within three years once it completes flight trials, evaluation and certification in collaboration with the city-state, it said in a statement Wednesday. Tickets for a 15-minute trip costing 300 euros (US$364) are already on sale.
Volocopter completed a demonstration flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay area in October last year, and the first commercial route is likely to fly tourists over the same district, offering spectacular views of the skyline, the company said. Later services could including cross-border journeys.
Singapore is at the forefront of plans to introduce flying taxis thanks to a more welcoming regulatory regime than in some other countries. While the craft could replace helicopters and light aircraft on some routes, they’d also be small and nimble enough to fly deep within cities and land with minimal space.
“Singapore is renowned for its leading role in adapting and living new technologies,” Volocopter Chief Executive Officer Florian Reuter said, adding that local capabilities in battery research, material science and route validation for autonomous operations will be central to the project.
Volocopter, which counts computer chip manufacturer Intel Corp. and automakers Daimler AG and Geely as investors, plans to set up a team of 50 pilots, engineers and operations specialists to support the Singapore flights.
The craft will initially carry a pilot and one customer, though services could switch to two passengers once approvals for autonomous operation are received. Ticket prices should fall sharply once flights become more widely available, according to Volocopter.
Obtaining necessary approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency will be a prerequisite for flights, the company said.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.