The US’s first regional hub for ‘flying cars’ is being built in central Florida and once completed in five years, the vehicles will be able to take passengers from Orlando to Tampa in a half hour, officials said Wednesday.
The Tavistock Development Corp. said it was constructing a Jetsons-like aviation facility called ‘Vertiport’ in Orlando’s Lake Nona area, which is home to several medical and research facilities.
Lilium Aviation,Germany-based aviation company, is supplying the hub with its five-passenger flying vehicles, which would be a stepping stone to constructing a massive transportation network across the nation.
At the moment, the Lilium Jets can travel up to 185 miles (298 kilometers) on a one-hour charge.
Passengers wanting a ride on the aircraft will be able to book reservations via their phones in a way similar to ride-share companies Uber and Lyft, officials said.
City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer commented: ‘For this new technology to truly reshape the transportation ecosystem and benefit Orlando residents long-term, it is going to take a true partnership between cities, developers and transportation operators.’
‘We have been focused on finding the right partners to be a global leader in the advanced air mobility space.’
The vehicles flying and landing out of the Lake Nona Vertiport will accommodate four passengers and a pilot.
The cost will be similar to a first-class, though the price will likely go down as the service becomes more popular, officials said.
Unlike airplanes and helicopters, the vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.
They could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams.
Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them, according to experts.
Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T.
The Lake Nona Vertiport has applied for approval from the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation.
The facility, which totals to a $25 million investment, would also create 143 new jobs in 2025.
Lilium was recently in talks with city officials, before receiving approval, regarding the tax incentive for building the massive transportation hub, which it plans to open up in five years – totaling $831,250.
Lilium notes that employees working at the hub would earn an average annual salary of $66,451, which is higher than the $46,140 paid to those working on public ground transportation.
And according to the city, the facility could generate $1.7 million for the economy in a 10-year period.
Chris Castro, Orlando director of sustainability and resiliency, said last month during a presentation: ‘This evolution we’re moving into is a more interconnected way for us to look at driving intelligence within our city and driving efficiency and, at the end of the day, quality of life.’
Lilium first conceived the air tax in 2013, but was officially unveiled a working flying vehicle in 2019.
It boasts two fix wings and one main wing at the rear, along with a ‘canard’ wing at the front that has been compared to a duck.
‘The canard wings each have two flaps and the main wings have four,’ Lilium shared in a blog post.