Dubai could soon get Mars-inspired air taxi

Its operational philosophy resembles those of Nasa's Mars helicopter ‘Ingenuity' and will be commercial and airborne in 28 months

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Nandini Sircar

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Fri 22 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 24 Dec 2023, 3:21 PM

An air taxi inspired by the principles behind Nasa’s ‘Ingenuity’ helicopter presently operating on the planet Mars may soon transport passengers and cargo in Dubai.

Austrian firm FlyNow Aviation has already initiated collaboration with authorities in the UAE and expects to be commercial and airborne in 28 months. This comes amid growing interest in alternate mobility solutions as traffic rates in megacities around the world continues to explode.

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The developers label it as “the most efficient configuration and infrastructure footprint that's ever been built in this space.”

Yvonne Winter, Co-founder and CEO of FlyNow Aviation said, “We have single and twin-seaters. In 28 months we’ll have the startup series production of the cargo version. So, we will have the cargo version before we go into the production of the passenger version.”

Yvonne Winter. Photo: Nandini Sircar/KT
Yvonne Winter. Photo: Nandini Sircar/KT

The eVTOL which has a 130kmph cruise speed and the sound of a dishwasher, can help passengers travel in comfort and style.

“The cargo version can carry up to 200kg, which aligns with the standard size in logistics. Its operational philosophy resembles those of Nasa's Mars helicopter ‘Ingenuity’,” she added.

The rotor system of this eVTOL is highly efficient, enabling flight in atmospheres with significantly lower density than Earth's, generating ample lift and control, ideal for operating in environments such as high altitudes.

“We have a 50-km range and another 25-km extra for security reasons. We can go up to 130-km cruise speed. Our eVTOLS have the sound level of a dishwasher. So, it’s very quiet,” she added.

The Austrian company that is looking to make greater inroads in the region has apparently already set the benchmark in all essential areas like affordability, operability, certification readiness, and efficiency.

“Patented technology and first customers have already signed.”

It’s explained that these air taxis will fly on a specific landing and starting hub taking an automatic approach of flying in a predefined route.

“The vehicle will be on autopilot and we go a predefined route. So, for instance, if you land at Al Maktoum International Airport, you go over to the private heliport operator Air Chateau, and then you book your flight to your hotel.”

How will the flight plan be devised?

In the interim, either the air traffic management or an affiliated company will analyse weather conditions to devise a flight plan, subsequently relaying this information to the air traffic control.

“When this is approved the vehicle takes off following the pre-programmed route and only air traffic control can interfere. In a situation where the passenger does not feel well for some reason, he presses a panic button. Then the vehicle goes down to the next alternate alternative landing spot. “

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Winter emphasizes these eVTOLs will also be equipped with collision avoidance sensors with only air traffic control possessing the authority to intervene in the flight path.

“This is crucial as it ensures that the airspace, particularly during varied operations, remains under the sole control of the authority.”

Shedding light on the ongoing discussions with various entities in the region, Winter said, “We are currently in talks with different bodies and investors. For instance, Air Chateau (the first and only Private Heliport Operator Company in the UAE) is one of our partners. We see this region, especially the UAE and Saudi Arabia as a lucrative market. So, the MENA region is our entry point to the Middle Eastern market. We feel that this region is innovative, fast-paced, and ambitious. Therefore, we want to be a part of it.”

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