Signature Flight Support reached a partnership deal with Uber Elevate to facilitate ground-based operations and what the company describes as skyport infrastructure across the United States for Uber Air. Based on earlier agreements with vehicle producers, Uber has set goals to conduct flight demonstrations in 2020 and to make aerial ridesharing commercially available to riders in 2023. Its first Uber Air cities are scheduled to be Dallas-Fort Worth/Frisco, Texas, and Los Angeles, California.
Signature Flight Support is Uber Elevate’s first nationwide operations and on-airport infrastructure partner. Signature will also be what the company describes as the ground-based operator of choice for Uber Copter services, which is set to become the first Elevate air-taxi 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. Signature explains these electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) differ from helicopters in that aim to be orders of magnitude quieter, safer and more affordable.
“Signature Flight Support’s operational prowess and industry leading understanding of the private aviation space makes them an ideal fit for Uber Elevate’s business,” said Eric Allison, head of Uber Elevate. “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 they arrive at a skyport, to the moment they depart.”
In operation for more than 25 years, Signature has more than 200 Fixed Based Operations (FBOs) across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. “We’re thrilled to join forces with Uber on this ground-breaking initiative that will be a first of its kind in our industry,” said Mark Johnstone, CEO, Signature Flight Support. “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.”
As part of the partnership, Uber and Signature plan to co-develop practices around safety and customer experience for Urban Air Mobility. Other partnerships with Uber Elevate include: Aurora Flight Sciences (now a subsidiary of Boeing), Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Bell and Karem Aircraft. Uber has also entered into a real estate partnership with Hillwood Properties. Uber 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 U.S. 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.