Edward Russell Washington Post
Need to get to the airport? Soon you can take an air taxi.
March 25, 2024
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  • Last November, a small, white, oblong helicopter with four passenger seats and six whirring electric engines took off from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport.

    Several people, including Mayor Eric Adams, watched as the air taxi known as an eVTOL — an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft — flew silently, undetected by nearby pedestrians along the East River.

    “To bring electric flight and the benefits of electric flight here is a dream come true,” said JoeBen Bevirt, the CEO of Joby Aviation, to the crowd. Joby is just one of dozens of firms around the world betting on eVTOLS. Their backers include some of aviation’s biggest names, such as Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Embraer.

    Many airlines and aviation companies are experimenting with new technologies not only to manage relentless economic pressure to be an affordable choice for transportation but also to be more environmentally friendly. Besides the move to electric engines, airlines are investigating options for fuel such as hydrogen and repurposed fuels and the reemergence of supersonic flight. Investors have spent an estimated $22.2 billion, according to a report published by the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility. Most companies aim to fly their new offerings in noticeable numbers by the end of this decade — or relegate them to the trash heap of history while they pursue other options.

    “You need to have a similar revolution as [with] the electric car,” said Anders Forslund, co-founder and CEO of the Swedish company Heart Aerospace.