'Flying taxis' mulled for Paris Olympics

Sports | 24 Jun 2019

Paris aims to give visitors to the 2024 Summer Olympics a flying start by offering airborne taxis to tournament sites straight from the airport.

Arrivals in the City of Light currently face an hour-long haul by bus or train into town from Charles de Gaulle airport to the north of Paris.

But if Aeroports de Paris, Airbus and the RATP regional transport have their way, passengers - right after their jets have taxied to a halt on the runway - will be able to take to the air once again with a self-flying urban taxi of the future.

The firms used this past week's Paris Air Show to say the Olympics afforded the perfect opportunity to bring into service futuristic Vertical Take-off and Landing machines, and that they would launch a feasibility study.

"In 2010, for the first time, more than half of humanity was living in urban zones, and we think we shall surpass 60 percent by 2030," said Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury.

The time had now come to vault up to "the third dimension" of local commutes - air, he said.

"If we have the conviction that in the next five, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years, low altitude is a space to be conquered, we have to put in place the conditions today," said the ADP Group's executive director general Edward Arkwright.

VTOL converts are already sprouting in number as the world looks to move beyond, or above, today's saturated motorways and growing environmental concerns.

Back on the ground, the view has been muddied by a delay beyond the Games, to 2025, of the express fast train designed to cut congestion and travel time between Charles de Gaulle airport and the city center.

For aircraft manufacturer Airbus, airport manager ADP and RATP, which manages Parisian public transport services, the Games are a chance to showcase French savoir-faire in urban mobility.

ADP has until the end of the year to choose a site for a "Vertiport" capable of hosting taxis from one of 10 aerodromes in the region around Paris.

The idea is to have the venue ready in 18 months, requiring infrastructure investment of some 10 million euros (HK$89 million), says Arkwright. He adds the project will test out the link "via an existing helicopter corridor."

Ideally, the service would see the airborne taxis take off every six minutes.

In order to make VTOL a reality by 2024, ADP is working alongside Airbus, which has for some years been involved in full electric propulsion urban mobility schemes. The manufacturer already has two prototype models.


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