In a document published on Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration outlined the steps that it and others need to take to usher in a competitive air taxi market in at least one location by 2028 with limited operations starting as early as 2025. The vehicles look like small airplanes or helicopters and can take off and land vertically, allowing them to operate from the middle of cities, whisking people to airports or vacation destinations like the Hamptons in New York or Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
The FAA's plan is notable because it reflects confidence that the technology is only a few years away, and because it comes from the agency that will oversee certification of the aircraft as well as the rules that pilots and companies must follow.
"These things will be coming on the scene, and our job is to try and be ahead of the curve," said Paul Fontaine, an assistant FAA administrator who oversees the modernization of the air transportation system. The plan is intended to serve as a guide for introducing the aircraft in a way that is predictable and routine, the agency said.
Creating the conditions for air taxis to zip above one or more cities by 2028 will be no small task, and aircraft manufacturers will need the help of many others besides the FAA, including other federal agencies and state and local governments.
Air taxis are likely to face resistance from local officials and residents who fear that they will be safety hazards or a nuisance. Legislation and lawsuits seeking to block their use in cities and neighborhoods could set up pitched battles.
But first the aircraft must be certified. Many are designed to be fully electric, though some could be powered by hydrogen or a combination of jet fuels and batteries. The aircraft are still under development by various companies and can carry only a handful of passengers. They also contain an array of new technologies and systems, many of which will have to be individually certified to meet the FAA's standards.
After Heavy Losses, Ukrainians Paused to Rethink Strategy 對俄反攻不利 烏克蘭暫停以調整戰術
文/Lara Jakes, Andrew E. Kramer
In the first two weeks of Ukraine's grueling counteroffensive, as much as 20% of the weaponry it sent to the battlefield was damaged or destroyed, according to American and European officials. The toll includes some of the formidable Western fighting machines — tanks and armored personnel carriers — the Ukrainians were counting on to beat back the Russians.
The startling rate of losses dropped to about 10% in the ensuing weeks, the officials said, preserving more of the troops and machines needed for the major offensive push that the Ukrainians say is still to come.
But that good news obscures some grim realities. The losses have also slowed because the counteroffensive itself has slowed — and even halted in places — as Ukrainian soldiers struggle against Russia's formidable defenses. And despite the losses, the Ukrainians have so far taken just 5 of the 60 miles they hope to cover to reach the sea in the south and split the Russian forces in two.
Russia had many months to prepare for the counteroffensive, and the front is littered with mines, tank traps and dug-in troops, while Russian reconnaissance drones and attack helicopters fly overhead with increasing frequency.
Military experts have long said the first 15 miles of the counteroffensive would be the hardest, as attacking troops generally need three times more power — whether in weapons, personnel or both — than defending forces.
Military analysts cautioned it was still too early to draw definitive conclusions about the counteroffensive. "It does not mean that it is doomed to fail," said Camille Grand, a defense expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations and a former NATO assistant secretary-general.