At long last, Los Angeles’ hellish traffic nightmare will be airborne.
Two Southern California companies have partnered to reach the goal of a fleet of “all-electric, vertical-takeoff” air taxis, reports the Whittier Daily News. Urban Movement Labs, a transportation nonprofit launched by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Santa Ana-based Overair, which is actually building the aircrafts, hope to have the vehicles ready to fly by 2026.
Overair’s propeller-driven “Butterfly” aircraft could one day be an alternative to everyday transportation, and will be capable of carrying up to six people (five passengers and a pilot), or 1,100 pounds of cargo.
The Butterfly will be able to travel about 100 miles at speeds up to 200 mph, and the aircraft will be capable of taking off and landing at existing pads that service helicopters, company officials said.
“We’ve tested some smaller prototypes and a full-sized propulsion system,” John Criezis, head of mobility operations for Overair, told the Whittier Daily News. “We’re in the process of building a full-sized prototype now.”
Overair recently received a cash infusion of $145 million in funding to continue development of its sky-hopping conveyances.
But first, Overair must get their product FAA-certified for flying.
“It’s a very involved process,” Criezis said. “They will be flying at an altitude of 1,000 to 3,000 feet.”
Sam Morrissey, Urban Movement’s executive director, says the organization was looking into new air technology before it could even be created.
“We wanted to look at advancements in air mobility before the technology arrived to put it into effect,” he said.
But will you be able to afford to zip across the L.A. skies come 2026? And what about noise? What about safety?
Although the prices have not been determined, Morrissey acknowledges that they won’t be cheap. And don’t worry about the noise, says Criezis, as the aircrafts are extremely low-impact when it comes to sound and possible sound pollution. Practically whisper-quiet, we’re sure.
“These vehicles are extremely safe, energy-efficient and very quiet,” he added. “When they fly overhead you’ll barely hear them. We think that lack of noise is a key to unlocking this technology in the city.”
Criezis admits that this new brand of commuting could take a moment to catch on.
“Safety is the critical aspect here and these will be as safe, if not safer, than riding on commercial airlines,” he said. “It might take time for people to get comfortable with this.”
One might almost ask: What could possibly go wrong?
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