Airbus joins Uber for on-demand chopper rides
Mon 18 Jan 2016
Airbus is teaming up with Uber to provide on-demand helicopter rides, due to debut at the Sundance Film Festival which opens in Utah this month.
According to Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, the flight service will employ H125 and H130 aircraft to transport passengers, while Uber vehicles will ferry them to and from the helipad sites. A Utah-based firm, called Air Resources, will be coordinating the service.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Enders said that the scheme was a ‘pilot project’, but that the European aerospace giant was looking forward to seeing ‘where it goes – […] it’s pretty exciting.’
This is not the first time Uber has experimented with helicopter partnerships, transporting people via chopper ride at the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Cannes Film Festival, Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and from New York into the Hamptons in 2013.
No details have been released about the cost of the service, however in the past the company has charged anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $3,000 for a door-to-door journey in a 5-seater aircraft.
The new initiative is expected to prove fresh competition for Uber-esque helicopter trip app Blade. The crowd-sourced charter flight service has been operating trips between Manhattan and east coast destinations since 2014.
In an extension from its traditional car-hailing business, Uber has also flirted with other modes of transport around the globe. It has trialled an auto-rickshaw service in Delhi and luxury boat rides in Istanbul.
For Airbus on the other hand, this partnership marks another step into the California tech hub. Last year the company announced a corporate venture capital fund, with an initial $150 million (approx. £105 million), and a new technology and business innovation centre in Silicon Valley, which confirmed its commitment to ‘identify and invest in the most visionary entrepreneurs in the global aerospace ecosystem.’