Hydrogen-powered VTOL aircraft developer Urban Aeronautics has launched a partnership with Singapore-based helicopter charter booking service Ascent to develop urban air mobility (UAM) services in Asia. The Israel-based company’s Metro Skyways subsidiary is developing the six-seat CityHawk VTOL model, which it believes will be well suited to autonomous air taxi operations.
Ascent’s app currently allows travelers to book individual seats on chartered helicopters in several southeast Asian countries. Along with Urban Aeronautics, the company believes that autonomous eVTOL aircraft could lower the price point for air taxi rideshare flights to as little as $2 per mile for each passenger.
In a March 18 announcement, the companies did not explain what work their partnership will cover, beyond indicating that Ascent’s market analysis may drive refinements to the design for the CityHawk. Urban Aeronautics has not published a detailed timeline for when it intends to achieve service entry with the aircraft.
“As we continue to advance on our development and look forward to commercial flights within a few years, we are eager to work with Ascent,” said Urban Aeronautics CEO Dr. Rafi Yoeli. “Thanks to Ascent’s unique operational experience, and growing footprint, we are now able to enrich our aircraft design and commercialization approach, based on direct market insights.”
On February 25, Ascent publicly committed to the United Nations Carbon Neutral Now pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. As part of that effort, Ascent will support carbon offsetting programs to compensate for emissions from rideshare flights booked. But in the longer term, it views VTOL aircraft as a more sustainable way to provide UAM air taxi services.
“The partnership with Urban Aeronautics is a great step forward in line with our objective to democratize sustainable urban air mobility,” commented Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff.
In January, Boeing announced an agreement with Urban Aeronautics’s Tactical Robotics subsidiary to work together on the Israeli group’s trademarked Fancraft ducted fan propulsion technology. This has already been used for its Cormorant VTOL aircraft, developed for emergency response or combat missions.
Ducted fan technology uses a fan mounted in a cylindrical duct to produce thrust. According to Urban Aeronautics, this generates better airflow velocity and pressure than an open rotor.