Dubai will witness full operations of flying taxis by 2026, the CEO of London-based company that was tasked to build the UAE’s first vertiport, confidently said at the concluding day of 3rd Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport on Wednesday.

Talking about the future of air mobility, Duncan Walker, CEO Skyports, said: “Dubai will be the first city (in the world) with a fully-developed network of vertiports for permanent air taxi services by 2026.” electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

A vertiport (vertical airport) is a facility designed for the landing and takeoff of drones or any advanced air mobility (AAM) transport. Technically, it is not similar to a helipad or heliport which is designed to accommodate conventional helicopters that have different size and weight specifications as compared to eVTOL aircraft such as air taxis.

A vertiport can accommodate multiple drones therefore it has a unique requirement to ensure adequate spacing between landing and launching pads. It is also designed to recharge eVTOLs.

Design approved

Walker’s speech at the Dubai World Congress for Self-Driving Transport organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is in line with the emirate’s target to have air taxis take-off by 2026. It can be recalled Skyports Infrastructure has had its vertiport design approved for development during the World Government Summit in Dubai back in February this year.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, were shown a vertiport model by Mattar Al Tayer, RTA director general and chairman of the board of executive directors.

The flying taxi vertiport will have its main hub located near Dubai International Airport (DXB) and operate initially to and from vertiport stations in Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Downtown and Dubai Marina.

Flying time

It was earlier announced that aerial taxis will have top speeds of 300kmph, with a maximum range of 241km. It can seat a pilot and up to four passengers.

Addressing the audience and transport experts on Wednesday, Walker said – with the flying taxi – the usual commute during peak hours from DXB to Palm Jumeirah will be cut down from 45 minutes to six minutes, plus around 10 minutes extra time at the vertiport.

He added flying taxis will pose many benefits aside from time saved as compared to land transport. Aerial taxis also have zero carbon operational mission and they will bring about reduced congestion on the ground.

Forefront of future transport

Walker praised Dubai for being at the forefront of developing the future of transport. He noted Dubai is ahead of the game because of “efficient government coordination, established regulatory framework, network of feasible sites as well as integrated transport, and robust business demand.

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