The drone policy unveiled last month will make air taxi operation in India a reality soon, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said on Thursday. The minister took to twitter to share his optimism after he met a delegation from the taxi-hailing company Uber, which has shortlisted India for its proposed aerial taxi service. “Met with @Uber Elevate team. India offers an encouraging and responsive regulatory framework to solve the challenge of urban transportation. With our progressive drone policies, we want to see air taxis becoming a reality soon!,” the Minister tweeted and tagged a photo with the Uber team.
Officials in the ministry said the Uber team had come to understand “how India is thinking about this space (air taxi)” . The delegation included chief executive of the Uber aviation programme Eric Allison, who on Wednesday made a presentation in Mumbai about its aerial taxi service, the cost of flying and the time saved in intra-city travel. The meeting of the team with Sinha came against the backdrop of the government unveiling the guidelines last month for commercial use of drones in the country from December 1, 2018. The guidelines are aimed at enabling safe, commercial usage of such taxis, among others.
Allison in Mumbai had said that the cost of flying through the service, which aims to use rooftops of high-rises and erect dedicated ‘skyports’, will be at par with its taxis. He explained that the vehicles used for it are akin to helicopters with multiple rotors that will fly low to keep the airspace free for jets and also have low noise levels.
The company has named Dallas and Los Angeles in the US as the first two cities for the commercial launch of its aerial taxi service by 2023 and has been on the lookout to select an international city as its third partner. It has shortlisted five countries – India, Japan, Australia, Brazil and France – and one of them will become the first Uber Air City outside the US.