Leading aircraft maker Airbus plans to introduce an online helicopter ride-hailing service in China’s Greater Bay Area by the start of next year, Yicai Global reported.
Similar to popular car ride-hailing apps like Didi Chuxing, the Airbus platform will allow passengers to order a helicopter and pay online, the Beijing News reported from the Aviation Expo China 2019 being held in the capital city.
The booking can be made within 60 minutes of wanting to travel.
The southern Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, which comprises nine cities and two special administrative regions, was chosen for the service’s China launch because of its high urban density and affluent consumer base, George Xu, chief executive of Airbus China, said at the conference.
Special conditions are needed to provide this kind of service, Xu said. It requires a conducive airspace environment, ground infrastructure such as landing aprons on the roofs of buildings, aircraft maintenance facilities and technical app development.
Airbus does not plan to stop at helicopters, Xu added. In the future the firm aims to introduce electric pilotless aircraft to further facilitate intercity point-to-point travel. These planes are quieter, greener and can seat more passengers.
Netherlands-based Airbus already offers the same commuter service in Brazil and Mexico through its Voom subsidiary.
According to Rotor & Wing, “São Paulo was a logical first market as it is a city plagued by congestion; traffic back-ups often stretch for more than 210 kilometres,” wrote Uma Subramanian, Voom’s CEO, on the company’s blog.
“With over 400 helipads in the metropolitan area, 700 helicopters and a dedicated helicopter air traffic control system, São Paulo is one of the best cities for helicopter transportation.”
Like Uber’s infrastructure, Voom does not own or operate the helicopters. All operators in the Voom network are RBAC 135 air taxi companies.
In terms of affordability, Voom says it offers flights for up to 80% less than traditional helicopter services and for the same price as a private car service, made possible by “a proprietary ‘pooling’ technology.”