Japan Airlines develops urban air taxi

Japan Airlines is partnering with Bell and Sumitomo Corporation to explore development of an on-demand air mobility ecosystem in Japan using Bell’s Nexus 4EX eVTOL air taxi.

eVTOL stands for “electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing” – pertaining to a small aircraft that can take off and land vertically by rotating multiple electrically powered rotors. It is attracting attention as a means of transport for next-generation urban transportation combining drone and electric vehicle technologies.

On February 11, the companies announced a memorandum of understanding to develop policy and planning recommendations, identify entry into service use cases and pilot programmes, and develop infrastructure requirements to enable “mobility as a service” (MaaS).

“We are excited to take this substantial step to bring together an international airline, a major infrastructure provider, and a VTOL OEM to work collaboratively on a more connected mobility future,” stated Scott Drennan, Bell’s vice president of innovation.

Japan Airlines, for its part, is “eager to explore the future of air travel beyond its existing framework, and we believe this is the right team to set the standard in Japan for future cities to implement urban air mobility systems,” stated Tomohiro Nishihata, Japan Airlines’ managing executive officer of Innovation.

Bell unveiled its Nexus 4EX air taxi concept at CES 2020 in January. It is a four-ducted, fully electric evolution of the original six-ducted, hybrid-electric Nexus revealed last year, now called the 6HX.

Photo: Nexus 4EX air taxi concept