Boeing is one step closer to bringing a flying taxi to the masses — well, the masses that can afford personal, autonomous air travel, at least. Boeing announced on Wednesday that it’s vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) electric air taxi has completed its first flight. The test was executed on Tuesday at an airport in Manassas, Va., near the headquarters of Aurora Flight Sciences.
Even Boeing is impressed at the pace with which it’s working. “In one year, we have progressed from conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Greg Hyslop, Boeing’s CTO, in a statement.
The craft, which doesn’t have a name but is referred to as a passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype. The plane is 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, with eight rotors for vertical lift and a tail rotor to facilitate forward flight. It’s designed to fly in a fully autonomous mode with a maximum range of 50 miles. The air taxi and flying car market could reach $615 billion-$2.9 trillion by 2040, according to Morgan Stanley analysts cited by Bloomberg.
It’s not clear when such vehicles might enter regular use. Uber has said it’s aiming to begin service in several cities, including L.A., by 2023 with early demonstrations set for 2020.