STA, February 14, 2018 – Slovenian ultralight plane maker Pipistrel is developing an electric aircraft for personal transportation in big cities for US ride-hailing company Uber. The aircraft is expected to be presented at Expo 2020 in Dubai, while big cities are to get first vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) by 2025.
"Uber will bring a breakthrough in aviation in general. Flying taxis have so far been limited to airplanes and helicopters, while in the future it will be possible to combine land and air transport," Pipistrel director and co-owner Ivo Boscarol has told the STA.
"There will be no environmental pollution, there will be no more heating of the atmosphere and no more noise," he said, adding that cities in which the aircraft would be used would need to prepare the necessary infrastructure, as all the aircraft would be electric.
Boscarol believes that such transportation will significantly reduce travel times, especially in major cities, where communication is hindered and where people today travel more than an hour to work.
With the aircraft, their jobs will be reachable in five to seven minutes. "As the aircraft will need significantly less time than usual taxi transportation, air taxis will be much cheaper," he announced.
After the expected presentation in Dubai, Pipistrel will need another year for testing and three years for certification. Some cities have already signed contracts with Uber and will start developing platforms and high-voltage networks.
The Pipistrel group, which comprises three companies, last year generated EUR 22m in revenue and EUR 2.5m in profit. Total revenue is expected to reach EUR 30m this year, according to Boscarol.
The group employed an additional 35 people last year to bring its workforce to 195. Boscarol has announced new hirings for this year, both in the company in Italy and in the new plant in Vipava, which will start producing parts for four-seat aircraft this year.