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Virgin Atlantic is exploring to launch a flying taxi service

VIRGIN ATLANTIC

Virgin Atlantic is exploring whether it could launch a flying taxi service as part of a partnership with Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace.

The airline suggests electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles could fly from towns to major airports. Vertical Aerospace is conducting test flights of its aircraft this year.

One expert said the proposal was “less radical” than those of other air taxi companies, but argued there would be challenges ahead.

Several companies have promoted the idea of autonomous “flying taxis” that could pick passengers up from rooftops in city centers and take them wherever they would like to go.

Vertical Aerospace says its VA-X4 craft will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot up to 100 miles, as well as being emissions-free and quieter than a helicopter.

“There’s a lot of hype in this market,” Vertical Aerospace president Michael Cervenka told the BBC.

As with any other aircraft, the VA-X4 will be subjected to strict safety and regulatory checks.

Dr Guy Gratton, associate professor of aviation and the environment at Cranfield University, said Slovenia’s Pipistrel Velis gave a good indication of what a modern electric plane could achieve.

“The Velis will carry two people, half a toothbrush and fly for about an hour-and-a-quarter. That is a conventional plane and thus pretty efficient compared to anything with vertical take-off and landing,” he explained.

While the VA-X4 will be quieter than a helicopter, the “rotors and wings would still make noise in forward flight”, he added.

What do you think?

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