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Dubai’s first passenger drones to fly in 2024

Airport, Jet, Airplane Supplied
The drone will be capable of speeds up to 120kph

A senior Dubai sheikh has signed a deal with a Hungarian aviation firm to manufacture passenger drones in the UAE, with the first aircraft due to roll off the production line in early 2024.

Sheikh Rashid Bin Ahmed Al Maktoum’s RAM Investment Ltd will partner with Jakabszállás-based Genevation Aircraft Ltd to build the drones as part of wider plans to boost the UAE’s industrial sector.

The federal government wants the industry to contribute AED 300 billion ($81.7 billion) annually to GDP by 2031, more than doubling its current output.

Under RAM’s agreement with Genevation, passenger drones will be built at an existing Dubai aviation facility, with some prototyping and testing conducted in Hungary before assembly in the UAE, a spokesperson for the NATO-approved aviation supplier told AGBI.

“We are building a drone initially for the leisure market,” said the spokesperson.

“It will be a leisure aviation toy like a gyrocopter or high-tech quad bikes in the desert.

“The easy control system will make them available for almost everybody. It will not require a full pilot licence, however short training at the factory facilities will be needed.”

The partnership’s first model will be a single-seater leisure drone and is in the design phase, with test flights due to start in the second half of 2023. A two-person craft will follow. 

The spokesperson declined to reveal a likely price for the drones, noting they can be configured according to buyers’ specifications. 

The battery-powered drones will have a top speed of around 120kph, a range of about 80–100 kms and a maximum flight time of up to 40 minutes. 

“It can grow as the battery storage capacity and efficiency improves,” said the spokesperson for Genevation, which specialises in building stunt planes. “Battery technology is going through a revolution driven by automotive and e-aviation.”

The drones will measure three metres long, 2.5 metres wide and 1.05 metres high – although these dimensions could change following testing.

Made from a carbon alloy frame and a carbon composite body, Genevation expects to manufacture around 200 drones annually at the Dubai factory. The partnership aims to sell them worldwide. 

“The team at Genevation are true visionaries, much like our great nation, bringing ideas to life through their advanced technological capabilities,” RAM Investment chairman Sheikh Rashid said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

“We’re excited to be working with the team, bringing industry pioneers to the region.”