Amid this ongoing pandemic, most of us are just looking to a future with outdoor concerts, in-person chats with other humans, and not having to dress like a cardiac surgeon to go outside. When we do emerge from our coronavirus cocoons later this summer — or next? — we’ll be one step closer to a future with flying cars. When that happens, it might seem as though you’ve time-traveled, but one innovative California company is promising that reality.
Quantum Air recently announced plans for the world’s first commercial “air taxis.” The tentative program includes a fleet of 26 flying taxis that will shuttle passengers between major points in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. In a city that’s notorious for having some of the world’s worst traffic, these taxi trips could replace hours-long car rides with blissfully short flights that take just a matter of minutes.
When most of us think of flying cars, we envision skies filled with go-anywhere eVTOLs hopping from building top to building top. Indeed, such vehicles with eVTOL technology — electric vertical takeoff and landing capability — have existed for decades. But, we’re still years away from fleets of commercial eVTOL craft cruising above the world’s cities.
The vehicles in Quantum’s new flight rely instead on eVTOL or “electric conventional takeoff and landing” technology. From the outside, they resemble traditional two- and four-seater Cessna aircraft, and they likewise require a landing strip of some kind to take off and land. Unlike conventional, gas-powered planes, however, the all-electric vehicles are better for the environment and easier to fly. They’re also much cheaper to maintain and operate, costing just $23 per flight hour compared to $110 per hour for a comparable Cessna 172. While Quantum Air’s plan doesn’t quite herald a Jetsons-esque futurescape of flying cars, it’s a step in the right direction.
Quantum Air intends to launch the fleet sometime in 2021. There’s no official word on the average cost of an air taxi flight. It’s clear, however, that Quantum intends to make the fleet an affordable alternative to ground-based transportation. The company’s CEO, Tony Thompson, said in a statement, “Since the dawn of flight, point to point air travel has been a luxury available only to a privileged few. Quantum’s groundbreaking air taxi service will finally make point-to-point air travel widely available.”
Whatever the cost, it sounds way cooler than a shared Uber ride.
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