Houston area's pilotless air taxis set to take off sooner than you think

Mycah Hatfield Image
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Houston area's pilotless air taxis set to take off by 2030
Sugar Land city officials said they will be able to land eVTOL, self-flying aircraft that will aid in commuting by the start of the next decade.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- The City of Sugar Land has partnered with a company that will bring autonomous air taxis to the Houston area by the end of the decade.

Wisk has been working to develop four-seater, self-flying eVTOL aircraft, or vertical take-off and landing, since 2010.

"This really will become such a fascinating and useful mode of transport," Emilien Marchand, the director of ecosystem partnerships for Wisk, said.

So far, they have identified the Los Angeles, Brisbane, Australia, and Houston areas as places to bring their air taxis.

The Sugar Land Regional Airport will serve as one of their so-called vertiports and training and maintenance facility for the area, with operations projected to start by 2030.

"I would say we asked a lot of questions first," Mitchell Davies, the deputy director of aviation for the Sugar Land Regional Airport, said. "There's things that we want to know about (like) what they're wanting to do before we jumped on board. I can say we were immediately interested."

Houstonians can hop aboard one aircraft and fly to one of the designated vertiports in a fraction of the time it would take to drive. Marchand said they are still working to identify the vertiports' locations with the existing airports, downtown, stadiums, or the Galleria under consideration.

"We have a lot of residents who commute into Houston, and we see this as another option for them," Davies said.

According to Marchand, the pricing should align with an Uber Black.

"This will definitely be what we call a 'crawl, walk, run,' so don't worry, there will not be thousands and thousands of aircraft from day one, and even at day X, we expect to start with a few aircraft and then some as the industry will grow," Marchand said.

Marchand said the project will be funded both privately and publicly.

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