Flying taxis and delivery drones set for UK skies by 2030

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The UK could see flying taxis transporting passengers, drones delivering goods, and unmanned aircraft aiding emergency services by the end of this decade, according to an ambitious new government plan announced today.

The Future of Flight action plan, unveiled by the Department for Transport, lays out a roadmap for novel electric aircraft and drones to overhaul transportation in British skies. Studies estimate the drone industry alone could boost the UK economy by £45 billion by 2030.

“The UK has a long heritage in aerospace and the publication of this plan sets out how we will lead the next revolution of flight,” explained Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace. “With government and business working together, we can unleash the huge economic, environmental, and social benefits of zero emissions flight globally.”

Key milestones in the plan include the first piloted flying taxi flight by 2026, regular flying taxi services by 2028, widespread drone deliveries by 2027, and demonstrations of autonomous flying taxis without pilots by 2030.

“Cutting-edge battery technology will revolutionise transport as we know it,” said Aviation Minister Anthony Browne. “This plan will make sure we have the infrastructure and regulation in place to make it a reality.”

The plan aims to establish the UK as a leader in sustainable aviation by supporting research into electric aircraft, developing standards for drone security, engaging local communities, and certifying “vertiports” for vertical take-off vehicles.

Such technologies are already providing benefits, the government noted. Police have used drones to track down suspects, while the NHS has tested using them to rapidly transport medical supplies between hospitals, cutting delivery times by 70 percent.

The plan will streamline regulations to get more drones in the air quickly for commercial and public services. It also enables trials of drones flying beyond visual line of sight and demonstrations of electric aircraft to ensure safety.

Industry leaders welcomed the strategy, saying it provides the support and direction needed to capitalise on emerging aviation markets globally.

“The UK is home to one of the world’s most important aerospace industries and is in an ideal position to be a pioneer in the next era of aviation,” said Duncan Walker, CEO of Skyports and chair of the government’s Future Flight industry group.

While promising transformative changes to airborne mobility, the plan emphasises these “flying cars” and unmanned drones must achieve the highest safety standards before widespread deployment.

(Image Credit: Vertical Aerospace)

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