Commercialization of the Uber Air Elevate Program and Beyond.
Flying cars are not yet a reality, but Uber has taken the first step in revolutionizing air travel from what it is today. To avoid heavy street traffic, the rideshare company has launched a new method of travel that utilizes helicopters. This pricey yet fascinating transportation option is currently available through the general Uber app for trips between New York’s Lower Manhattan and JFK Airport. The city’s notorious standstill traffic can delay the 16-mile drive to more than two hours (1). However, the flight in a helicopter only takes seven minutes between landing pads (2).
Uber is a new competitor in personal Air Travel. Since there are competitors like BLADE, offering service in more locations around the United States, Uber is looking to innovate in various ways. Users report that the Uber app is more seamless and user-friendly in its booking process (4). In addition to the short in-air ride, the one-way reservation conveniently includes UberX rides, the original rideshare car service, to and from the helicopter sites. However, there are some significant drawbacks that come with this alternate travel option. Uber shares main site terminals with BLADE. In addition, despite Uber’s helicopter service already becoming more popular due to its 41.8 million users in the US alone, it relies on a third party company Heliflite (5). Heliflite, founded over 20 years ago, employs all pilots operating the flights and owns the helicopters that Uber is using for their services. The hefty price that comes with riding an Uber Copter can also reach up to $225 per person, and the service is also limited in its accessibility, as it is solely available in a restricted area and time.
Uber continues to expand its presence in aerial transportation, launching the 2023 Uber Air Elevate project for eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircrafts. These electrically powered aircrafts are designed to hover, take off, and land vertically, eliminating the need for a traditional runway. The Elevate project is predicted to begin testing sometime later this year (7). This project involves major partnerships with well-established companies including Hyundai, Boeing, and Bell Aircraft to mass-produce these eVTOL vehicles. Uber is also working alongside Elevate Cloud Services to provide reliable tracking in the air (8). All eight of the companies Uber is partnering with are collaboratively designing with the goals of lowering noise pollution and costs while increasing safety and efficiency.
The personal air travel industry is only just beginning to emerge and become more accessible to the public. Despite a steep price tag, some may see this new option as worth it for the time saved. Casual aerial travel may become part of the new norm of transportation within the next decade. Uber Copters are merely the very beginning of the future’s air travel revolution.
– Connie Yang
- Dorsey, B. (2019, October 4). We tried Uber’s new helicopter service, here’s what it was like. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://thepointsguy.com/news/we-tried-ubers-helicopter-service-new-york-jfk/
- (2020). Introducing Uber Copter. Retrieved April 7, 2020, from https://www.uber.com/us/en/ride/uber-copter/
- BLADE – Fly the Future Today. (2020). Retrieved April 10, 2020, from https://blade.flyblade.com/
- Matthews, L. (2019, October 3). I Took Uber Copter From Manhattan to JFK-Here’s What It’s Like. Retrieved April 8, 2020, from https://www.afar.com/magazine/what-its-like-to-fly-uber-copter-from-manhattan-to-jfk-airport
- Iqbal, M. (2020, March 24). Uber Revenue and Usage Statistics (2020). Retrieved April 9, 2020, from https://www.businessofapps.com/data/uber-statistics/
- Kelly, S. M. (2019, October 4). Uber’s new helicopter service is an expensive, time-consuming adventure. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/04/tech/uber-copter-review/index.html
- (2020).Uber Elevate. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from https://www.uber.com/us/en/elevate/uberair/
- Hawkins, A. J. (2020, January 6). Hyundai will make flying cars for Uber’s air taxi service. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from https://www.theverge.com/2020/1/6/21048373/hyundai-flying-car-uber-air-taxi-ces-2020