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Ready for take-off: Dubai to have flying taxis by 2026

The RTA says the network will link downtown Dubai to other districts by 2026 Dubai Media Office
The RTA says the network will link downtown Dubai to other districts by 2026

Flying taxis will become operational in Dubai by 2026, with “vertiports” initially connecting downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Dubai International Airport and Palm Jumeirah, says the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai, approved RTA models of aerial taxi vertiports at the World Government Summit 2023, reported the state-run news agency WAM.

The project aims to integrate the service with the existing public transport network, according to Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the RTA.

“The initial phase encompasses choosing both manufacturers and operators based on their technology and timeline, as well as determining the sites for vertiport installations,” Al Tayer said.

Vertiports will offer designated take-off and landing zones, a passenger waiting area, security protocols, and electric charging stations.

“The next step involves identifying investors who are experts in building the necessary infrastructure for the air mobility industry,” Al Tayer said.

Sheikh Mohammed approved the prototype design of the first aerial taxi vertiport near Dubai International Airport. It has two levels for car parking. The topmost roof serves as the terminal for aerial taxis, which will be connected to the Emirates Metro Station via an air-conditioned bridge.

“The launch of the service hinges upon the preparedness of the companies and the legislative requirements for operating aerial taxis. This involves a thorough examination of all operational details and ensuring that all safety and security measures are in place,” Al Tayer said.

The RTA’s aerial taxi initiative aligns with the Dubai Self-Driving Transport Strategy, aimed at transforming 25 percent of total mobility journeys in Dubai into driverless journeys by 2030. 

The RTA is working closely with the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, General Civil Aviation Authority and Dubai Air Navigation Services to create a framework for the operation of such vehicles in the emirate. 

With a range of 241.4 km and a top speed of 300 km per hour, aerial taxis can accommodate up to four passengers plus a driver, the report said.

In December 2022, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority issued the world’s first national vertiport regulation. It covers the design and operation of vertiports – areas of land, water or structures used for vertical take-off and landing aircraft. It is expected to be released in the first quarter of this year.