The Weekly Business Aviation Poll, Jan 29 - A Focus on UAM

This is an abbreviated version of the article 'Uber Launching Campaign To Gain Public Acceptance Of UAM' by Graham Warwick.

Uber is launching a three-year, “multimillion-dollar” community engagement plan to pave the way for the anticipated start of commercial urban aerial ride-sharing services in its pilot cities of Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

A key part of the plan will be test flights of a prototype electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicle over a city this year to measure noise levels and gauge public reaction. Uber has not yet said where and when the flights will be conducted, or with which vehicle.

Find out what Mark Moore, head of aviation for the Uber Elevate urban air mobility (UAM) initiative said about the upcoming plans. 

When it comes to community engagement, “noise is a large part of it,” Moore told the Vertical Flight Society’s Transformative Vertical Flight conference in San Jose, California, on Jan. 10. Designing eVTOLs for low noise is a “necessary condition” for public acceptance, he said.

“Three years ago we presented a crazy white paper [on Uber Elevate]. Today we are right on target and executing exactly what we said in that white paper,” Moore says. “We are now entering the next phase and preparing the cities for the vehicles.”

To get to the number of daily flights per vertiport required for urban air taxis to be economically viable, Uber is targeting a 15-dB reduction in vehicle noise level from existing light helicopters. “Noise is tightly coupled to the economics the vehicle can achieve,” Moore said.

While not identifying the eVTOL that will be used for the test flights, Moore says it will be piloted and will not carry passengers. Of the eight vehicle partners so far announced by Uber, only one—Joby Aviation—has so far unveiled a flying, piloted prototype eVTOL.

Read more about the early eVTOLs such as Joby’s and what needs to be developed.