Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan witness agreement to launch aerial taxis in Dubai by 2026

- February 11, 2024 , by Maagulf
Sheikh Mohammed, Sheikh Hamdan witness agreement to launch aerial taxis in Dubai by 2026

Dubai: His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, together with H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, and Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), today witnessed the signing of an agreement to launch an aerial taxi service in Dubai by 2026.

The Agreement was signed ahead of the World Governments Summit (WGS) by RTA with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), Joby Aviation (Joby), the world leader in aerial taxi development, and Skyports Infrastructure (Skyports), the leading vertiport infrastructure provider for the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry. Following the agreement, Dubai is set to become the first city in the world with a commercial, city-wide electric aerial taxi service and vertiport network.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, also reviewed the Joby Aviation S4 Aerial taxi, which is scheduled for commercial operations in 2026. The project is part of RTA’s future mobility initiatives, aimed at providing transportation services for both Dubai residents and visitors.

His Highness was briefed by Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA, about the progress of the aerial taxi operations. This innovative transportation service uses cutting-edge technology to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of individuals within urban areas. The initiative aims to integrate with Dubai's public transport network.

The Joby Aviation S4 is designed to accommodate four passengers plus the pilot safely and securely. It is equipped with six propellers and four battery packs, enabling it to cover a maximum distance of 161 km. With a top speed of up to 321 km per hour, the aerial taxi is less noisy than helicopters. Its vertical take-off and landing capability makes it efficient for urban environments, eliminating the need for extensive horizontal space typically required for conventional stations.

The agreement was signed by Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA; Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy on behalf of GCAA; Mohammed Abdulla Lengawi, Director-General, DCAA; Duncan Walker, Founder and CEO of Skyports; and JoeBen Bevirt, Founder and CEO of Joby Aviation on behalf of their respective organisations.

This agreement marks a global first, establishing a binding partnership between a governmental body, an aircraft manufacturer and operator and a vertiport owner and operator. Under the agreement, RTA will oversee advanced air mobility services, with Joby providing an aerial ridesharing service and Skyports being granted the exclusive rights to design, construct and operate a network of vertiports.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the General Civil Aviation Authority, said, “The UAE’s air transport sector, thanks to our wise leadership’s directives, is witnessing continuous development in accordance with global best practices. What we are witnessing today is the latest milestone in our efforts to enhance the sector’s global leadership and competitiveness. The UAE’s air transport sector has taken a big leap forward at the regional and global levels by announcing the launch of the pioneering air taxi project. It is set to bring about an unprecedented transformation in the country’s urban transport landscape, making it more flexible and sustainable.”

He added, “The General Civil Aviation Authority worked in cooperation with its partners to formulate the national regulatory framework needed for the implementation of this pioneering project. The Authority issued regulations for air taxis and vertical ports, thus becoming the first national aviation authority in the world to issue this regulation, laying the foundation for the future infrastructure of the air transport system in urban areas. The move will also create new investment opportunities in air transport infrastructure and smart transport in our cities.”

Bin Touq highlighted the importance of integrating efforts by the General Civil Aviation Authority, the RTA and all partners involved in this project, in order to build infrastructure in accordance with the highest global standards to enable the future of advanced air mobility. It is also essential to ensure that all necessary preparations are made to safely and seamlessly operate vertical ports within cities, in coordination with existing airspace users, he noted.

“The aerial taxi initiative is part of RTA’s efforts to embrace future transportation technologies. The initial phase of the aerial taxi service will be launched at four prime locations: near Dubai International Airport, the Downtown area, Dubai Marina, and Palm Jumeirah. These vertiports will stand out for their innovative design, featuring take-off and landing zones, dedicated spaces for passengers and security checks, electric charging stations, and integration with public transport systems,” Al Tayer commented.

“The aerial taxi service offers a novel and efficient mobility option for Dubai's residents and visitors, enabling fast, safe, and convenient travel to key city spots. For example, a flight from the Dubai International Airport to Palm Jumeirah is expected to take just 10 minutes, down from the 45 minutes by car. This service is also set to enhance the integration with various public and individual mobility means such as taxis, e-scooters and bicycles, thereby facilitating seamless multimodal transportation, improving citywide connectivity, and ensuring a smooth travel experience for passengers,” he noted.

“RTA, together with Skyports and Joby, has carried out comprehensive studies for the selection of the initial four vertiport sites. Efforts are ongoing with the GCAA, the DCAA, the Dubai Air Navigation Services Corporation (DANS), and other relevant parties to establish the legislative and operational framework required to operate aerial taxis in the emirate. This regulatory and operational framework is the first of its kind in the world,” Al Tayer added.

Bevirt said, “It is an honour to collaborate with the Dubai Government to showcase the value of air mobility globally. The agreement encompasses the three crucial elements needed for the successful introduction of aerial taxi services: an aircraft with the capacity and range to deliver meaningful journeys, a definitive path to operations and well-placed infrastructure supported by dedicated partners. We are excited about offering an exceptional experience to both residents and visitors of Dubai and are enthusiastic about establishing a groundwork for extending our services across the UAE."

For the first time in the region, Joby displayed its revolutionary aircraft at the World Governments Summit, giving participants a first-hand experience of what flying in the five seat aircraft will be like.

Walker said, “This agreement marks a significant step towards the launch of commercial aerial taxi services in Dubai. The industry has never been closer to making it a reality. This agreement brings together the key enablers of advanced air mobility: strong, innovative local leadership; a world-leading aircraft partner; and critical ground infrastructure integrated with the emirate’s existing transportation networks. The strategic positioning of our vertiports in key locations across Dubai will enhance connectivity and provide a faster travel option for residents and visitors. With the Definitive Agreement signed, now begins the exciting part: designing and building our vertiports.”

At WGS 2023, RTA and Skyports unveiled a preliminary design concept for a vertiport located near Dubai International Airport. This envisioned vertiport features a three-floor structure dedicated to parking, with the top-deck featuring a vertiport terminal and airfield designated for aerial taxi operations. A distinctive feature is the vertiport’s connection to the Emirates Metro Station, enabling seamless access and promoting multi-modal transport. The vertiport’s modern design will be in harmony with Dubai's iconic landscape, offering a standout, convenient, and efficient transportation option. Dubai’s future vertiports will provide comfortable, air-conditioned amenities, built to the highest international safety standards, ensuring a comfortable and seamless experience for passengers.

Aerial taxis offer several key benefits, including vertical take-off and landing capabilities, a low noise footprint and zero operating emissions. This allows for greater flexibility in urban environments, helping to deliver passengers closer to their intended destination. These vehicles prioritise safety, comfort, and speed, incorporating cutting-edge technology in their design and manufacture.

More than 4,000 participants from the public and private sectors will participate in 110 interactive sessions at WGS 2024, including 200 speakers from 80 international, regional and intergovernmental organisations including the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Health Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Arab League. It will also feature eight Nobel prize winners, and provide a platform for 23 ministerial meetings attended by more than 300 ministers. In partnership with a select group of knowledge partners, the Summit will launch more than 25 strategic reports, focusing on the most important practices and trends in vital sectors.

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