Uber Air Prepares for Takeoff in Melbourne
With the appointment of Natalie Malligan as the head of Uber Air Australia, the company is one step closer to launching its flying taxi service in Melbourne. Malligan was previously the head of Uber Australia and New Zealand.
Malligan plans to make Uber’s urban aviation plans a reality. She will work with the Victorian government, federal aviation agencies, Melbourne Airport, and the surrounding communities to make aviation-based ride-sharing viable in its quest to relieve traffic congestion on the ground.
Melbourne becomes the third pilot city for Uber and the first outside the US. It joins Dallas and Los Angeles in the quest to bring personal air transportation a reality for millions of people. Test flights are tentatively scheduled for 2020 with an eye toward commercial operations beginning in 2023.
Uber has partnered with Macquarie, Telstra, and Westfield-operator Scentre Group, and its existing partners including Melbourne Airport to develop the infrastructure and telecommunications necessary to operate.
In a competing effort, Vahana, the eVTOL being developed by Airbus, has already flown 80 test flights. It recently completed a full transition flight during which it vertically takes off and accelerates while its wing and canard rotate to its full cruising configuration where it can achieve speeds just above 100 mph.
The lessons learned from Vahana will inform its Airbus Urban Mobility, a venture that includes a partnership with car manufacturer Audi.