Porsche and Boeing join forces to build luxurious, electrically powered vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOLs) for wealthy people to fly over traffic-strangled cities. They are the latest companies to announce intentions to explore the risky and potentially dangerous market for urban air mobility.
Porsche and Boeing have signed an exclusive memorandum of understanding, which means they will look for ways to cooperate, but they are not locked into a binding agreement. As part of the partnership, the companies say they will "create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential of premium vehicles and potential use cases."
The word "premium" seems to indicate that this will not be a "flying car" for the masses, which is reasonable considering that we are talking about Porsche here. Many companies interested in setting up a network of electric aircraft taxis have stretched their credibility by insisting that people of all income levels can afford to buy tickets. But given the cost of creating an infrastructure to support electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL), including landing cushions and charging stations, it seems like it will be marketed to the very wealthy – at least to start.
Porsche, Boeing and Boeing's subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences will work together to develop a luxurious electric flying car that can fly short hops over cities. Aurora has worked hard to test its first autonomous electric aircraft. Earlier this year, the unpilotated vehicle went vertical, hovered for a few seconds and then landed at the company's test site in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing said that future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward flight modes.
Boeing, and now Porsche, is among dozens of companies seeking some form of city air taxi service. But as one of the largest airlines in the world, clearly, Boeing has the resources and the skill of the engineer to get something up in the air faster than most.
And Boeing is not the only aviation giant interested in electric flying. Last year, rival Airbus demonstrated its Vahana eVTOL aircraft in a test flight very similar to Boeing's. But unlike Boeing, Airbus plans to launch its own flying taxi network.