South Korea Demonstrates Air Taxi Service

Officials in South Korea have demonstrated a local air transportation service that could be in operation in Seoul as soon as 2025.

Innovators Magazine reports that the demonstration involved South Korea’s urban air mobility (UAM) vehicles, designed to carry people between major airports and Seoul’s city centre. According to officials, the air taxi service will cut down travel time between the city and airports by around two-thirds.

This equates to travel time being reduced from an hour to around 20 minutes for a 30 to 50km journey.

At the demonstration was Transport Minister Noh Hyeong-ouk, who said such vehicles are expected ‘to become one of the common means of transportation that citizens use in daily life’ meaning UAM services must be tested in different environments.

For the demonstration, a pilot flew a two-seat air taxi model by Germany’s Volocopter at Seoul’s Gimpo Airport, testing the vehicle’s control and coordination. The Volocopter vehicle is powered by rotors that permit it to take off and land as a helicopter does. The model demonstrated can be piloted or operated without a pilot.

However, a transport ministry official said that when passengers are onboard UAMs, a pilot must also be on board to control the vehicle. This is a safety measure for the taxi service and will also help the vehicles gain public acceptance, the official added.

When the service launches, a trip from Incheon International Airport to central Seoul is expected to cost around $93/£70/€80, which is currently much higher than standard taxis for the same trip, but transport ministry officials say the price will drop to around $17/£12/€15 per trip by 2035, if there is strong growth in the market.

The ministry said that the demonstration tested the abilities of air traffic control systems (ATC), and claim that ATC systems that manage airport flights can also manage UAM air traffic.

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