Air Taxis Could Be Coming, but Not in the Way You Might Think

As analysts at Cowen point out in a new report, the four startups expect to make almost 4,000 vehicles in 2027, which is more than all the commercial jets, business planes and helicopters manufactured in 2018, the peak year. Also, they have a high certification bar to clear.

However, it is the second part of the business plan—taking on Uber and Lyft —that really defies precedent.

There are two reasons to hop on a taxi: convenience and speed. But unlike a car, an eVTOL vehicle needs dedicated “vertiports” to land and take off. Air-taxi companies are partnering with firms like parking-garage owner REE and construction contractor Ferrovial to build them, but if restrictions on helicopters are a good guide, many cities won’t be able or willing to host enough vertiports to make for a financially viable air-taxi network.

Moreover, traveling to and from the vertiports would often require other means of transportation, making the effort pointless for most trips under 30 miles, which is Uber’s market.