Air taxis

The concept of an air taxi is not new but so far has never really been a product in reach for most people. Today, air taxi services are generally helicopter services which offer limited routes at relatively high cost. Almost all the products being developed in this space today are fully electric, promising lower operating costs than helicopters and in some cases doing away with a pilot entirely. Some focus urban air mobility, or basically just travel within cities. Other offer a little more range and space to allow city-to-city connections. Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) or Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) is critical for this application as it means that the aircraft can operate without the need for a (long) runway. An aircraft is considered an air taxi if it seats less than 8 passengers and / or has a range of less than 100nm and offers VTOL or STOL capabilities.

Airbus CityAirbus NextGen


Image credit: Airbus media kit
Primary location: Donauwörth, Germany
Website: airbus.com

After having built two earlier technology demonstrators, the Vahana and the CityAirbus, the CityAirbus NextGen builds upon the lessons learnt from these aircraft. It will take four passengers up to 43nm. Initially, the aircraft will require a pilot but Airbus expects autonomous operation in the future.

Alaka’i Skai

Image credit: Skai Global promotional image
Primary location: Stow, Massachusetts, United States
Website: skai.co

The Alaka’i Skai is a boxy looking eVTOL with a hydrogen fuel cell power source. While boxy on the outside, it’s fancy on the inside with BMW Designworks having been contracted to help with the design of the vehicle. While intended as a short hop air taxi, the hydrogen fuel cell technology should allow for a much longer range than the typical mission, with an anticipated range of 348nm. The Skai will seat one pilot and four passengers.

Archer Midnight


Image credit: Archer media kit
Primary location: Palo Alto, California, United States
Website: archer.com

Pictured here is actually the Archer Maker, an 80% scale demonstrator that seats two which will serve as a testbed and certification platform for the eventual full-scale version of Archer’s final product called Midnight. Like most air taxi designs it is an electric VTOL and is expected to carry four passengers and one pilot up to about 87nm. The project has already attracted a large order from United Airlines in partnership with regional carrier Mesa Airlines (which is similar to the construction they used for the Heart ES-19).

Ascendance Flight Technologies ATEA


Image credit: Ascendance Flight Technologies media kit
Primary location: Toulouse, France
Website: ascendance-ft.com

The ATEA is a hybrid-electric VTOL design that embeds fans inside of its double wings and combines this with two smaller motors for forward movement. The hybrid approach aims to give it a range of over 215nm while seating five people. Ascendance is also considering hydrogen as a potential future power source.

AutoFlight Prosperity I


Image credit: AutoFlight promotional video
Primary location: Shanghai, China
Website: autoflight.com

The Prosperity I is an electric VTOL that will carry three passengers and one pilot up to around 135nm. While being developed in China, AutoFlight looks to aim for the European market as well, aiming to achieve certification there by 2025.

Bell Nexus 4HX / 6HX


Image credit: Bell media kit
Primary location: Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Website: bellflight.com

The Bell Nexus 4HX and 6HX stand out from other air taxi designs with their large ducted fans. Not too much is known at this point, but it appears the 4HX will be fully electric while the 6HX will use a hybrid electric system to deliver more range.

Beta Technologies ALIA-250 / ALIA-250c


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Primary location: South Burlington, Vermont, United States
Website: https://www.beta.team/

The ALIA-250 is a small Electric VTOL aircraft for relatively short range flights. Seating six and offering a range of up to 250nm, it promises more range and space than most Electric VTOL aircraft under development today. The c model is a cargo variant offering 200 cubic feet of cargo space.

EHang 216


Image credit: EHang press release
Primary location: Guangzhou, China
Website: https://www.ehang.com/

The EHang 216 is an autonomous electric VTOL that seats two and has a range of 19nm. EHang is positioning the 216 as not just an air taxi, but also as a sightseeing vehicle. There is also a proposed firefighting variant that could be used by fire departments to reach difficult locations.

EHang VT-30


Image credit: EHang press release
Primary location: Guangzhou, China
Website: https://www.ehang.com/

The VT-30 is a longer range electric VTOL air taxi with a focus on travel between cities. Like the EHang 216, it is an autonomous two-seater but with a far greater range of 162nm.

Eve Air Mobility EVE


Image credit: Embraer media center
Primary location: Melbourne, Florida, United States
Website: https://eveairmobility.com/

While only really referred to as EVE and with little revealed in terms of performance, this Embraer subsidiary has already managed to attract considerable attention from potential operators like United, Republic Airways, Skywest, Sydney Seaplanes and more.

Honda eVTOL

Image credit: Honda promotional video
Primary location: Tokyo, Japan
Website: honda.co.jp

Honda announced their intention to join the eVTOL market in 2021 and introduced an as-of-yet unnamed concept. Little details are provided but Honda makes it clear they’re aiming for a hybrid-electric powertrain to ensure better range when compared to purely electric VTOL aircraft. Honda already produces the HondaJET aircraft, built by their subsidiary Honda Aircraft Company in Greensboro, North Carolina. If their eVTOL would also be built by the Honda Aircraft Company is unclear.

Jaunt Air Mobility Journey


Image credit: Businesswire / Jaunt Air Mobility press release
Primary location: Dallas, Texas, United States
Website: jauntairmobility.com

The Jaunt Air Mobility Journey is an evolution of the Carter PAV autogyro. It’s all electric powertrain will take four passengers and one pilot up to an estimated 70nm to 87nm. A hybrid powertrain is also being considered to further extend the range.

Joby Aviation S4



Image credit: Joby Aviation media kit
Primary location: Santa Cruz, California, United States
Website: jobyaviation.com

Joby’s approach to the air taxi concept is to not just produce the aircraft, but also be the operator of its own aircraft, purchasing Uber’s Elevate air taxi division. The S4 will seat four passengers and a pilot and offer a range up to 150nm. Commercial operation is planned for 2024. While battery powered, Joby’s purchase of hydrogen aircraft technology developer H2Fly hints at potential adoption of hydrogen fuel-cell technology in the longer term.

Lilium Jet


Image credit: Lilium media kit
Primary location: Wessling, Germany
Website: https://www.lilium.com/

The Lilium Jet is certainly one of the most striking aircraft being develop today. Rather than using propellors like most other electric VTOL aircraft, the Lilium Jet relies upon a large number of small electric turbines that can be angled downwards to enable vertical take-offs and landings. The Jet will carry six passengers and one pilot for up to 135nm

Overair Butterfly


Image credit: Overair press release
Primary location: Santa Ana, California, United States
Website: overair.com

The Overair Butterfly stands out from other eVTOL air taxi designs by having much larger rotor blades than any of their competitors. The Butterfly is a fully electric design however and is expected to take one pilot and five passengers over 87nm. Pictured here is a rendering of the Butterfly painted in the colors of Bristow Helicopters, which is best known for supplying helicopters for the oil & gas industry and has expressed interest in 20 to 50 aircraft.

SkyDrive SD-03 / SD-05 / SDXX


Image credit: SkyDrive press release
Primary location: Toyota City, Japan
Website: skydrive2020.com

Japan-based SkyDrive is working to launch their first commercial product, the SkyDrive SD-05, after having successfully flown their smaller SD-03 one-seater prototype. A concept design with room for two passengers only referred to as the SDXX is teased on their website as well, with a video teasing fancy graphical heads-up displays for the passenger. In reality, that doesn’t seem likely for the initial product and the SD-05 will probably be an autonomous two-seater that’s somewhere in between of the current SD-03 and the SDXX concept. Even without knowing all the details, expect range to be quite limited making the SD-05 only suitable for local travel and it is initially positioned primarily as an air taxi. SkyDrive has partnered with Suzuki on research, development and marketing.

Supernal SA-1


Image credit: PR Newsire / Hyundai press release
Primary location: Irvine, California, United States
Website: supernal.aero

Initially introduced by Hyundai during CES2020, it has since rebranded its Urban Air Mobility division to Supernal. The SA-1 is presented as a concept vehicle and not a final design and little has been shared since the initial announcement about what the final product may look like and there are no details around what the expected performance may be. Supernal also indicates that it intends to launch a family of vehicles. Further, Hyundai is also working on hydrogen fuel-cell technology under the brand HTWO which is listed as a partner in the project, suggesting that hydrogen fuel-cell technology may be used as a power source.

Urban Aero Cityhawk


Image credit: Urban Aero press release
Primary location: Yavne, Israel
Website: urbanaero.com

Urban Aero’s Cityhawk can be seen as an evolution of their earlier development, the AirMule. The AirMule was developed as an autonomous platform able to offer VTOL cargo capability for military use or support for emergency services. The Cityhawk uses a similar design with larger enclosed fans at the back and front. It will take one pilot and four passengers up to 78nm. Operation for the pilot is simplified by heavy use of automation. The earlier vision of the AirMule being used by emergency services remains a proposed use case for the Cityhawk. Initial plans are to use conventional turboshaft engines however Urban Area intends for their VTOL to switch to a hydrogen fuel cell system by 2030.

Vertical Aerospace VX4


Image credit: Vertical Aerospace media kit
Primary location: Bristol, United Kingdom
Website: https://www.vertical-aerospace.com/

With an order for up to 500 aircraft from leasing company Avalon and with Japan Airlines expressing interest in up to 50 of those, the VX4 has serious potential. Aerospace manufacturer Leonardo has partnered with Vertical Aerospace to produce the initial fuselages. Designed as a short-range air taxi, it will take four passengers and one pilot up to about 87nm.

Volocopter VoloCity


Image credit: Volocopter media kit
Primary location: Bruchsal, Germany
Website: https://www.volocopter.com/

You can fly the Volocopter VoloCity right now. Well, in Microsoft Flight Simulator anyway as one of their official aircraft. It is a short-range air taxi that seats two. Besides producing the aircraft, Volocopter also intends to be the operator, aiming to launch services in Paris and Singapore to start.

Volocopter VoloConnect


Image credit: Volocopter media kit
Primary location: Bruchsal, Germany
Website: https://www.volocopter.com/

The big brother of the VoloCity, the VoloConnect offers more range and space. However, with a range of around 54nm, it is still very much an air taxi.

Wisk Cora


Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Primary location: Mountain View, California, United States
Website: https://www.wisk.aero/

The Wisk Aero is a short-range autonomous air taxi that seats two passengers. Only traveling up to about 22nm, the Wisk is all about urban mobility and has Boeing as one of their major investors and is developed in partnership with Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences. Wisk is currently conducting flight testing.

Zuri 2.0


Image credit: Wikimedia commons
Primary location: Prague, Czech Republic
Website: zuri.com

After building and flying a technology demonstrator, Zuri presented their new model, for now simply called the 2.0. It is a hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft with a range of up to 378nm. Tilting engines allow for a transition between vertical and horizontal flight. Renders depict different interior configurations with room for one pilot and three or four passengers. A cargo version is also proposed.