A startup backed by Brazilian planemaker Embraer is eyeing bring flying taxis, sorry, an urban air mobility ecosystem, to several cities around the Asia-Pacific region by 2026. Startup Eve says the first aerial taxi ranks will be installed in Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Tokyo, and Melbourne.
Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Tokyo, and Melbourne on Eve’s radar
For many of these cities, this isn’t a new idea. Melbourne got a surprise in 2019 when Uber Air announced plans for an aerial taxi service in that city by 2023. Alas, Uber quietly killed that idea within 12 months.
In far denser Asian cities like Bangkok and Tokyo, schemes for manned and unmanned aerial taxi services have come and gone.
Now Eve and a partner want a crack at the market. Eve is an EmbraerX spinoff. EmbraerX is a design and innovation incubator. EmbraerX also has links to the ill-fated Uber Air. Eve is in the urban air mobility business.
“Its advanced electric vertical aircraft (EVA), coupled to its comprehensive global services and support network, and a unique air traffic management solution, make Eve a serious contender in this space,” said Embraer in a statement on Tuesday.
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Eve to provide some 100 eVTOL aircraft to Singaporean business Ascent
Eve has teamed up with Singaporean company Ascent to provide up to 100,000 hours of flight time per year on electric vertical and takeoff and landing (eVTOL) from 2026 in these cities.
At the moment, Ascent does conventional private jet charters, helicopter charters, and medivacs. But Ascent is also expanding into the urban air mobility market.
“Ascent is one of the greatest players of urban air mobility in Asia-Pacific and its strong presence in the region makes it an ideal partner for Eve’s operations,” says Andrew Stein, President and CEO of Eve. “The region holds a massive demand for transportation disruption that can be filled with our low emission aircraft.”
While Eve plans to send 100 eVTOL aircraft to Ascend, details on the aircraft are thin on the ground. According to EmbraerX, Eve is developing a “portfolio of solutions” in the urban air mobility market. Eve says the first flight of the engineering simulator happened in July 2020. Proof of concept followed in October.
eVTOL aerial taxi flights still at concept stage
While there’s some slick imagery on Embraer X’s website, hard specs on potential aircraft types are tough to source. However, since first venturing into urban air mobility in 2019, Eve has signed deals similar to this week’s deal with Blade for markets in Florida and the US West Coast, Kenya Airways, and Flapper to roll out aerial taxis in key South American cities.
But to date, no significant eVTOL aerial taxi business has got off the ground. While interesting and with significant potential, the industry is still in the development phase. There is no guarantee it will get past this stage.
Back in Melbourne, aviation authorities are at least open to the idea. Late last year, EmbraerX said it was talking to Airservices Australia, the country’s civil air navigation service provider, about operating aerial taxis in Melbourne. Airservices Australia was reportedly keen to engage.
But as Uber Air discovered, making the leap from concept to reality can be easier said than done. Uber Air’s premature boosterism of its aerial taxi service and subsequent failure reduced that business to a laughing stock in Melbourne. It’s a fate Embraer X, Eve, and Ascend will be keen to avoid.
Do you think we will see eVTOL aerial taxis flying by 2026? Post a comment and let us know