Iran is to introduce air taxis which will become operational by early next year according to the head of Iran Aviation Industries Organisation. The taxi fleet has already obtained an operational flight permit with the first routes already devised including a separation of air taxi lines from commercial flights.
“The first flight will definitely be operated in the [calendar] month of Bahman [January-February 2021] from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport,” Manouchehr Manteghi told Mehr News Agency today. However similar claims were made last year by Manteghi with the service said to be operational around the same month this year.
In a recent interview with Tehran Times, one Iranian aviation industry expert, Arman Bayat, who is also a consultant to the Iran Airports Company (IAC) Air Taxi Programme explained that many of the country’s airports already have the necessary infrastructure to support such operations and that almost 80 per cent of Iran’s airports are currently inactive due to non-compliance with international standards for receiving large-scale aircrafts and commercial flights. It is believed that by launching air taxis, these idle airports would become operational and productive once again.
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Iran has a long-established aviation industry which is almost 80 years old including having the oldest airline in the Middle East and the second oldest in Asia although its general aviation industry has faced years of neglect, which the Iranian government is seeking to redress. In July, the Defence Ministry announced that it had developed the country’s first domestically-made mobile air traffic control (ATC) tower which can be used for all types of flights at airports.
An air taxi is a small commercial aircraft capable of making small flights on demand and can have a similar capacity of an ordinary taxi or minibus seating between four to ten passengers. Earlier this year, the the Guardian reported that a handful of start-ups funded by major aviation and car companies have carried out test flights of electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Piloted air taxi services are expected before 2025 and ride-hailing app giant Uber says it anticipates the aircraft to operate without pilots by the end of the decade. A German tech company has also developed a prototype which could commence flights as early as 2024 while SkyDrive, a Japanese firm funded by Toyota unveiled its eight-propeller, manned flying vehicle in a test flight in September.
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