Bell Helicopter, which has tied up with Uber to revolutionise mass transportation, expects to bring the first air-taxis under the partnership by the middle of next decade, according to an executive at the Textron unit.
“Air taxi is the next way for our industry, and it’s very important for us to make sure we are among the disrupters to think about what should be transportation in the next 10-20 years,” said Patrick Moulay, executive vice president for commercial helicopter sales. “We’re not going to see a taxi flying tomorrow, but it’s much closer than what people think.”
Uber disclosed the initial steps of its air-travel vision last year, announcing five partner companies with various specialities aimed at making the sci-fi staple affordable and common. The initial testing is expected in 2020 in Dallas and Dubai, two car-clogged cities where aviation interests wield great influence.
In countries like Indonesia and in New York, the technology already exists, with some customers using an app to book helicopters, Mr Moulay said. "For the air taxi, we believe that by the mid-2020s, or may be 2025, we will be there flying, we will see the first aircraft flying," he said at the Singapore Airshow.
Founded in 1935 as Bell Aircraft, the Fort Worth, Texas-based company has delivered more than 35,000 aircraft to customers around the world, according to its website. It has additional plants in Amarillo, Texas and Mirabel, Canada.