Uber Elevate hopes to have urban mobility services operating in Dallas, Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia, by 2023. Eric Allison, who heads up Uber’s aviation division, told an audience at NBAA-BACE 2019 in Las Vegas the form and function of the new type of urban transportation is starting to come together into what he terms an “operating system for the way you move.” He said that rather than isolate the aviation portion of the typical urban journey, Elevate’s aim is to provide a door-to-door transportation plan for each trip through the customer’s wireless devices.
Uber is sticking to its plan to stay out of aircraft development and instead has issued specifications to guide manufacturers in the creation of those vehicles. The centerpiece of the plan is landing areas on downtown buildings where the automated aircraft would pick up and disembark passengers but the whole process of getting to those terminals would be coordinated through the app. To test the concept, the company launched Uber Copter, using Part 135 operator HeliFlite to fly customers from the Lower Manhattan heliport to JFK. Customers book through the Uber app and Allison said the “ecosystem” managing those trips is getting a good test. The helicopter flights now cost about $225 one way but he said the full scale system using VTOLs could be competitive with going by car.