India may soon see air taxi services which could help reduce traffic and pollution on city roads – operating under the Drone Rules 2021 that was announced by the government on Thursday. Flying cars, now popularly known as electric air taxis have always been popular in pulp fiction and sci-fi movies, but now it has become a reality.
According to Morgan Stanley Research study, the autonomous urban aircraft market may be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040. Another urban air mobility study by Frost & Sullivan, as per CNBC, sees air taxis beginning in 2022 in Dubai and expanding with a compound annual growth rate of about 46% to more than 430,000 units in operation by 2040. A confluence of technologies, including autonomous vehicles such as drones and self-driving cars, more efficient batteries and advanced manufacturing techniques are driving this trend.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said air taxis are being researched globally and many startups are coming up. “The time is not far when like taxis that you can see on roads like Uber, etc, you will see taxis in the air under the new drone policy. I believe this is possible,” he said. According to the new rules, no security clearance is required before registration or issue of licence for the operation of drones. In addition, fees for these licenses have been reduced significantly.
The government said drone corridors will be developed for cargo deliveries and coverage of drones has been increased from 300kg to 500kg to include heavy payload-carrying drones and drone taxis, or air taxis. The Civil Aviation Ministry has also reduced forms that need to be filled to operate drones, from 25 to five, and decreased types of fees charged from the operator, from 72 to four. Online registration of all drones shall happen through the Digital Sky platform.
It should be noted that air taxi services has already been started to Dehradun from Chandigarh and Hisar, thanks to the Haryana Government. The services are available seven days a week. The journey, as per euttaranchal, takes an approximately one hour to reach Dehradun from Chandigarh and one hour 45 minutes to Dehradun from Hisar – with the fare being INR 3799 per seat.
A number of companies and startups across the world have shown interest in air taxis. From venture-backed startups and Uber to major auto and aviation companies are rushing to grab a foothold in this nascent market. This business, as per CNBC, has the potential to significantly disrupt the landscape of urban mobility and investors are pouring millions into commercialization efforts. Experts believe they are attracted to the fact that electric air taxis have the potential to lower operating and maintenance costs dramatically.