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22 Mar 2018 22:53
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  •   Home > News > Business

    Flying taxis trialled in South Island

    Flying cars could be here sooner than you think with air taxi trials already under way in Queenstown and Canterbury.

    Forget hailing a taxi on the curbside - your next ride could be coming from the sky if a trial of "air taxis" currently under way in the South Island is successful.

    Kitty Hawk, operating as Zephyr Airworks in New Zealand, has begun a trial of its air taxi, called Cora, a cross between an aeroplane and a drone, in Queenstown and Canterbury.

    New Zealand's air navigation provider Airways confirmed the trial on Tuesday, saying it welcomed the piloting of autonomous flying vehicles in the country.

    "New Zealand's regulatory environment and relatively uncongested airspace make us an attractive option for new operators," Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner says.

    "There is no doubt that technology is evolving and Airways' role is to enable safe and flexible access to our airspace to allow these new industries to thrive."

    A trial of a traffic management platform to monitor the air taxis' flights is currently under way in Canterbury and Queenstown.

    Kitty Hawk says in a statement that the creation of the air taxi "is the beginning of a journey towards everyday flight, where air travel will be woven into our daily lives".

    While they aren't putting a timeframe on when Cora will be available for public flights, Zephyr Airworks boss Fred Reid told local media they were striving to have limited services operating in New Zealand in the next three to six years.

    Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says the fully electric, self-piloted aircraft rises and lands like a helicopter but flies like a plane.

    "This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport ecosystem to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet," she said in a statement.

    Zephyr Airworks and the prime minister will be making a joint announcement about the next phase of the project on Wednesday.


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