Signature Flight Support (SFS) is partnering with Uber Elevate to facilitate ground based operations and skyport infrastructure for Uber Air. SFS is Uber Elevate's first nationwide operations and on-airport infrastructure partner, and the company will also be the ground-based operator of choice for Uber Copter services which offer the first real demonstration of the Elevate experience.
Uber plans to operate a network of electric air taxis in cities worldwide to enable four-person shared flights in densely populated urban markets. These electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) differ from helicopters in their aim to be quieter, safer, more affordable and more environmentally-friendly.
“Signature Flight Support's operational prowess and industry leading understanding of the private aviation space makes it an ideal fit for Uber Elevate's business,” says head of Uber Elevate Eric Allison. “Efficient and safe skyports are a critical component of our business model, and our future collaboration with Signature will allow for a seamless rider experience from the moment passengers arrive at a Skyport to the moment they depart.”
Signature has over 200 FBO locations across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. “We're thrilled to join forces with Uber on this groundbreaking initiative that will be a first of its kind in our industry,” adds group CEO Mark Johnstone. “This is a powerful partnership that will leverage Signature Flight Support's industry leading scale, distribution and aviation expertise and marry it with the innovative services and technology leadership of Uber to forge a bold new vision for the future of transportation.”
“Signature Flight Support is on a mission to define and deliver next generation aviation services and experiences for all of our customers and partners,” says CCO Shawn Hall. “Our collaboration with Uber is just one example of our new, expanded approach to providing seamless end-to-end travel experiences in compelling, disruptive and innovative ways.”
As an FBO operator for Uber Elevate, Signature intends to apply its expertise to support skyport infrastructure and operations serving eVTOL passenger pickups and drop offs at its on-airport locations, as well as designated purpose-built eVTOL urban skyports. In the near term, Uber and Signature will co-develop practices around safety and customer experience for urban air mobility.
Uber has a goal of conducting flight demonstrations in 2020 and of making aerial ridesharing commercially available in 2023. The first Uber Air cities should be Dallas-Fort Worth; Frisco, Texas and LA.
Uber has entered into partnerships with such aircraft manufacturers as Aurora Flight Sciences (now a subsidiary of Boeing); Pipistrel Aircraft; Embraer; Bell; and Karem Aircraft. It has signed two Space Act Agreements with NASA, one for the development of new Unmanned Traffic Management concepts and Unmanned Aerial Systems and a second to explore new concepts and technologies for Urban Air Mobility. Uber has also signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Army Research Lab to assist in the vehicle development and testing for Uber Air. This includes an initial joint work statement to provide joint funding of $1 million for research development of rotor technology.