DGCA starts work on making air taxis reality here by 2026 – ET Auto

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Stellantis has also invested and is helping bring in best practices for high-volume manufacturing, Goel said.

New Delhi: As India gears up for the next govt —with exit polls indicating a resounding third term for PM Narendra Modi— aviation ministry has begun work on a project he is keen on bringing to the country: urban air mobility. DGCA is learned to have set up multiple technical committees to lay the roadmap for air taxis to take off in the country, starting with Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Bengaluru by 2026, followed by other cities like Chennai and Hyderabad.

Once India formulates rules for various aspects of the e-vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL), IndiGo parent InterGlobe Enterprises (IGE) will start work on putting the required infrastructure in place along with US air taxi manufacturer Archer Aviation.

“DGCA has set up several panels to look at different aspects of air taxis that range from air navigation; which all routes they can operate; safety and standards for vertiports. Everything will be in place for the air taxis to take off in India by 2026. In terms of regulatory preparedness for eVTOL services for urban air mobility, India will be ahead of the curve,” said people in the know. A team from Archer recently met aviation authorities here over the programme’s rollout in India. IGE is in regular touch with the regulator for the same.IGE chief Rahul Bhatia has ordered 200 Midnight air taxis from Archer at a list price of about a billion dollars. Archer hopes to start operations in the US, with New York and Chicago, next year. Immediately after that, the plans are to launch them in India and UAE. Bhatia recently visited Archer’s US headquarters and saw the eVTOL.“Given the extreme congestion in Indian cities, urban (air) mobility is going to do what mobile telephony did to India (for communications in the mid-1980s). They were able to leapfrog people’s ability to communicate. This (air taxi) is not different and will work very powerfully in the country,” Bhatia had said at Archer HQ. US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had about 10 days back issued for public inspection the final airworthiness criteria for Archer’s Midnight aircraft. “This significant regulatory milestone provides the path for Archer to achieve type certification for Midnight… unlocks the ability to work with FAA to obtain the remaining final approvals on its certification, test plans… and prepares to begin its piloted flight testing later this year,” Archer had said in a statement on May 23.India’s aviation authorities will also lay out the technical aspects that air taxis will need to meet to fly in the country. Boeing-backed Archer’s Indian-origin CCO Nikhil Goel says the cost per passenger of using this service is likely to be just a “slight premium” over Uber.

“Delhi-Gurgaon, for instance, costs INR 1,500-2,000 by Uber. An air taxi (per passenger) will cost up to 1.5 times that or INR 2,000-3,000,” he had recently said. Archer will begin manufacturing Midnight at its Georgia factory this year. It is working with auto major Stellantis to make air taxis in other places too, including India. Archer’s major investors include United, which apart from equity investment has placed a firm order for 200 eVTOLs worth USD 1 billion (INR 8,346 crore at the current exchange rate) and has an option to order 100 more. Boeing is on board and is bringing in autonomous technology for our future gen eVTOLs. Stellantis (Amsterdam-based automotive manufacturing company formed by the merging of the Italian–American Fiat Chrysler and the French PSA Group) has also invested and is helping bring in best practices for high-volume manufacturing, Goel had recently told TOI.

  • Published On Jun 3, 2024 at 08:20 AM IST

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