The Brazilian low-cost airline Gol Linhas Aéreas and the Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon have agreed to deploy a fleet of electric air taxis over São Paulo by 2025 and to buy or lease 250 aircraft for them. Gol said the VA-X4 eVTOL, manufactured by the British company Vertical Aerospace, will help expand the range of domestic regional air traffic and achieve the company’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050.
“It will be an absolute upheaval. We will democratize air traffic,” said Domhnal Slattery, CEO of Avolon, which will provide the aircraft to Gol all in one Interview with the Financial Times.
Cross between helicopter and glider pilot
The VA-X4 flying taxi looks like a futuristic cross between a helicopter and a glider. It offers space for four passengers and a pilot, reaches speeds of up to 320 km / h and has a range of more than 160 kilometers. According to the manufacturer, it is almost noiseless and emission-free in flight.
“The VA-X4 is ideal for a city like São Paulo,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, in a statement. “Our eVTOLs will change the way we travel in high-density, high-traffic cities.” In the Brazilian metropolis of millions, the super-rich have long been used to moving between their luxurious beach properties or ranches and heavily guarded residential complexes in helicopters and thus avoiding the permanently congested streets. The Bristol-based company Vertical Aerospace, founded in 2016, promises its website to usher in “a new era of vertical transport.” The aircraft are to be delivered to Avolon and Gol at the end of 2024 or 2025, respectively.
As cheap as an Uber taxi
“Our basic estimate right now is that the cost of ownership for this aircraft will be the equivalent of one dollar per passenger over a 25-mile journey,” Slattery told the Financial Times. “We think we can cut the cost of this to the equivalent of an Uber trip, which is the equivalent of a trip from downtown Manhattan to JFK Airport.”
Gol said the move was part of a business strategy to invest in regional aviation. The airline intends to open new routes to “underserved domestic markets”.
The German air taxi developer Lilium has also received a major order from Brazil. The company says it is in negotiations with the Brazilian airline Azul for the delivery of 220 Lilium jets. The order would have a volume of one billion US dollars. Meanwhile, the Bruchsal-based German aviation company Volocopter, which manufactures electric VTOL air taxis for passengers and cargo drones, wants to have its Volocitys fly in town. The company is developing its own aircraft for this purpose: the four-seater Voloconnect air taxi.