Commentary: Review the airworthiness of Singapore's air taxi dreams


SINGAPORE: Discuss about flying cars as a mitigating measure to traffic congestion in urban areas like Singapore have been around for a long time.

But in Singapore, it has taken root because of the issue of transportation issues and cynicism that the city-state might be substituting road traffic is a price tag that will limit access, even if flying cars proliferate here.

But with the announcement that trials for air taxis, as small helicopters employing technology drones, may come as 2019, it seems this reality is closer to hand.

Still, for short-distance travel needs to be greater.

Helicopters have been employed in many cities, including the most popular travel conditions, including the most popular travel sites where they are in use.

While the popularity of services is growing, analysts say there are unlikely to be large

While the popularity of such services is growing, analysts say there are likely to be large numbers of helicopters to take the taxis as soon as prices will remain a barrier (Photo: AFP / ADEK BERRY)

READ: Flying taxis? Bell Helicopter sees such a service taking off in Singapore


How do many will these aerial taxis be used? Consider whether commuters will find them safe, convenient and cost-effective ride.

The traveler considers the commanding to be time-consuming and wishes to cut it down, which the aerial taxi accomplishes by avoiding road traffic jams. However, without the widespread availability and use of aerial taxis, the fares will not be competitive enough to attract commuters.

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And how convenient can they be? Let us compare the process of commuting by aerial taxi with a normal taxi. For one, you won't flag down aerial taxi.

Even though you are not going to be able to use a mobile phone, the taxi can be used as an open field, which can be used to open land, where you are, far away from people. .

The number of sites in the car park.

The site will have to be able to use a landing site, which will need to be compensated for by a faster travel time by air. using the shortest route possible.

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Yet consider this – a taxi stand concept for the aerial taxis across key neighborhoods in Singapore. These could be allocated space at some popular landing sites to park and wait for passengers. You could queue up to catch one of these taxis.

taxi stock pix

File picture of taxis in Singapore. (Photo: TODAY)

All this might be a chicken-and-egg discussion. With great numbers, air travel might not be expeditious. If many aerial taxis approach the simultaneous landing site, drivers will have to queue up to be advised by air traffic control, posing potential delays to your journey.


The key question remains for unmanned aerial taxis trialled in Singapore – do you trust driverless technology?

Let us compare these with driverless cars. Despite many years of trials, it has yet to take off in a meaningful way.

Granted that it has to operate in a more complicated environment than unmanned drone in the air, whose technology is well-proven, the psychological threshold of commuters needs to be crossed to make unmanned aerial taxis a commercially viable option is higher.

In the event of an unfortunate accident, the commander may walk away from an unmanned car, but not from an aerial taxi. Modern aeroplanes may be a pilot to take over in an emergency.

Yet issues regarding water safety, and in managing interference with the flight paths of aircraft and during taking off and landing, can be mitigated.

If aerial manned taxis are made to cruise low altitudes in places where they don't have flight paths of our three airports; and these issues can be managed.


On the whole, it will take some time and effort before drivers will become commonplace.

Visitors to the IAA can be taken for a spin in driverless cars

A front passer's view in a driverless car. (Photo: AFP / Daniel Roland)

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Many countries and leading companies are already moving into these unchartered territories albeit cautiously.

While the lack of low-cost manufacturing has made mass production of elusive vehicles, accelerating advances in this greenfield aeronautical technology space may make them more ubiquitous in the future.

This year, Uber held a second flying taxi conference, showcasing concept images that Embraer and Pipistrel Aircraft are planning for the ride-hailing company’s ambitious projects. The ride-hailing giant expects to begin testing of its urban water taxis in Dallas, Los Angels and Dubai in 2020.

In China, Huawei has developed the world's first one-passenger air taxi that can act as an aerial ambulance, in collaboration with Chinese drone company eHang.

The Japanese government is also looking to make laws and infrastructure needed to put cars into the sky in the next decade.


Will Singapore follow suit? Singapore's track record in land transportation shows we have bucked the trend, new transportation technologies in past instances.

Singapore was one of the first to apply peak period pricing to manage congestion in the city in the 1970s, when it was discussed in other cities.

ERP gantry

An ERP gantry in Singapore. (File photo: Ngau Kai Yan)

The country has also built a mass rapid transit system in the 1980s despite vigorous opposition, and constructed road tunnels in the 1990s against conventional wisdom at that point. We are none the worse for implementing these schemes.

It is heartening to see evolve in tandem regulations, where disruption in Singapore has typically seen catch-up laws in most bike-sharing and ride-hailing sectors.

Where the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has been proposed to provide public safety, plans for issuing licenses to the public, and the government of the Republic of Indonesia. operators and pilots suggest authorities are looking into safety standards and competence frameworks for their operations.

"These aerial vehicles will be dedicated aerial corridors designed with different routes," said the Permanent Secretary for Transport, Pang Kin Keong, highlighting the Government's factored into the future national plans.

READ: Pang Kin Keong's commentary on Singapore's impending urban mobility revolution

There is also a great private sector enthusiasm to see this vision's realization.

Backed by tech titan Intel and auto giant Daimler, German company Volcano, which is running trials in Singapore, said the setting up of a product design and engineering team to support expansion plans.

Local reports also suggest it is for real estate partners developers and providers of develop infrastructure that support flight testing.


The Volocopter 2X. (Photo: Nikolay Kazakov, Karlsruhe)

The adventures of driverless cars and driverless aerial taxis will probably see the end of our taxis with their chatty, who have graced our roads for more than seven decades.

But there is much to look forward to.

Gopinath Menon is a transport consultant who is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Infrastructure Systems of the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.


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