For the first time since releasing its 98-page “Elevate” manifesto last October, Uber revealed the details of its air-taxi ambitions at this week’s Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas. Announcing a number of partnerships, from aircraft companies to real estate developers, Uber vowed to have its app-based regional air travel service testing in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, as well as Dubai, by 2020. Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden said that UberAir is the “natural next step” for the company, and lawmakers also believe it is the next step for a region with a rich aviation history.
“This program is revolutionary and future-oriented, which is why Fort Worth is a perfect partner to base the Elevate pilot,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “We have Alliance and DFW airports in our backyard and are close in proximity to other major cities. As the Western part of the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the fourth largest metro area in the nation, there is huge growth potential. Plus, Fort Worth is a progressive and business friendly city that encourages innovation.”
“This is an opportunity for our city to show leaders from around the world and across industries why Dallas should be a part of building a better future for urban mobility,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in his own statement.
Among the partnerships that Uber has announced are deals with Pipistrel, Embraer, Bell Helicopter and Aurora Flight Services to develop vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. But the VTOLs will also need places to take off from and land, and so Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillstone real estate development company has signed on to create the first UberAir test vertiport. Perot also believes that Dallas-Ft. Worth is the perfect place to develop and initiate this service.
“It’s a perfect market for the rollout,” he said on the first day of the summit, citing the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Arlington and American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas as the kinds of sports and entertainment hubs that will be benefit greatly from UberAir. Perot believes the vertiports can be built quickly, and Uber will be able to draw from the state’s large pilot population for “part-time” UberAir operators.