Push for electric air travel gains momentum in Tampa Bay
TAMPA, Fla. - Electric air travel is gaining momentum, and there is a push to bring it to the Tampa Bay area in the next few years.
A new technology could transform transportation, and it's called air taxis. The electric airplanes will offer high-speed travel powered by batteries.
"Aircraft that take off and land vertically like a helicopter, and they’re known as eVTOLs, which stands for electric vertical take-off and landing," explained Brett Fay, the director of General Aviation for the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority.
There is a lot of interest and investments being made into this technology.
"This is actually happening, and you're going to start to see that unfold over the next couple of years," Fay said.
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No eVTOL companies have received certification from the FAA, but Fay expects that to happen around 2025, with passengers in the sky not long after. Each aircraft can hold three to eight people.
"It's a new technology that's very exciting, and we're going to make sure that here at Tampa International Airport and our General Aviation Airports that we're ready and prepared when it does get certified," said Fay.
The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority formed a committee to focus on advanced air mobility. The group meets monthly and brought in some top industry leaders earlier this year.
It is not clear which companies might be first to bring this rapidly developing technology to market, but the Advanced Aviation Technology Committee wants to be involved when air taxis land in Tampa Bay.
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"If you look at an airport like Tampa Executive that's located right at the heart of I-75 and I-4, and its nearness to the Hard Rock, you could get on an eVTOL there, and you could go to Disney or you could go to the beaches in Clearwater or St. Pete or go to downtown Tampa," Fay said.
In 2020 plans were announced to build a vertiport in Orlando, one of the first U.S. urban and regional mobility hubs. Leaders believe the Tampa Bay area could benefit from this new way to travel.
"We have a lot of congestion on our roadways, in our interstates. And I think the geography of Florida really makes it a natural fit for this type of technology," said Fay.
The goal is for eVTOLs to eventually become autonomous, and when that happens, the cost per ride is expected to come down. So theoretically, folks would be able to afford using air taxis as a daily mode of transportation.