Air taxis could begin flying between airports and downtown areas as soon as 2025, according to the leading developers of eVTOLs. These electrically powered aircraft, which can take off and land vertically like a helicopter, are much quieter and, some say, safer.
Backed by major companies including Boeing, Delta Air Lines, Stellantis, Toyota Motor North America and United Airlines, manufacturers like Archer Aviation and Joby Aviation are also working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to certify their aircraft. The FAA says it expects eVTOL aircraft to be operating “at scale” by 2028.
For that to happen, cities will need to be ready for busier skies and the demand for sites where eVTOLs can take off and land, known as vertiports. A McKinsey & Co. analysis found that medium and large cities will need a dozen or more such vertiports. The FAA implementation plan for advanced air mobility urges community engagement at the regional level so citizens can “understand how these new aircraft operations will impact their communities” and recommends environmental reviews of potential impacts to “noise, air quality, visual disturbances, and disruption to wildlife.”
As former FAA acting administrator Billy Nolen told Smart Cities Dive, “There’s a role for municipalities to play in terms of building out part of the infrastructure, the vertiports, so that all of this comes together.” Here are some of the biggest stories Smart Cities Dive has covered in urban air mobility this year.