'Electric air taxi solution to India's pollution'

Electric air taxi will be an ideal solution to India’s urban pollution and congestion problem, said JoeBen Bevirt, founder of Joby Aviation. Speaking here on Saturday, he said the company is looking to launch in India after it launches commercial operation in 2025.

Joby Aviation is a California-based aviation company, developing an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that it intends to operate as an air taxi service.

Besides many other venture-backed funds, the company has raised a $590-million-funding round, led by Toyota Motor Corporation.

“India is a dynamic place and has reputation to embrace emerging technology fast and I believe electric air taxi to provide India an incredible opportunity to leapfrog other nations to provide low-cost, high-speed, green transportation in a way that has not been possible before,” Bevirt said.

India, he said, is a major force in global aviation, showing an 11% growth every year – four times faster than the global average.

“India has the opportunity to lead the way to bring air taxis to market and with that we can make this growth in aviation sustainable dramatically reducing the emission of a flight,” he said.

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia had earlier said that air taxis will become a reality in the next 4-5 years in India.

The government is currently working on approving Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations for drones.

While Visual Line of Sight flights are dependent and operated within the pilot’s line of sight, BVLOS allows drones to fly beyond visual range, which brings the cost of operation lower and makes it feasible to deploy drones for commercial purposes like food or medicine delivery or air taxi.

InterGlobe Enterprises, which owns India’s largest airline IndiGo, has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Joby’s rival Archer Aviation to launch and operate an all-electric air taxi service in India by 2026.

A passenger on its air taxi will be able to fly the 27 km Delhi trip from Connaught Place to Gurugram, typically taking 60 to 90 minutes by car, in approximately 7 minutes, the companies said.

Bevirt said Joby aircraft take off vertically and eliminates the use of runway.

But he said that unlike a helicopter, it also doesn’t produce the noise which disturbs surroundings.

Bevirt said that Joby is the Uber of air taxis. “With a single click on your mobile, you can book a single journey much like you book an Uber today.”

With Joby’s e-taxi, he said a journey from Bengaluru airport to the city centre can be completed in 13 minutes as opposed to two hours during rush hours.

“That is a saving of 100 minutes in just one trip, thus making cities more green and increasing efficient use of land which is a scarce product in big urban centres,” he said.

Last week, US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Admission (FAA) accepted Joby’s propulsion system certification plan, one of several steps that demonstrate compliance with aviation regulations.

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William Murphy

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