Zipping round Hong Kong in a drone might sound far-fetched, however would-be startup airline Seaplane Hong Kong is eyeing that chance. With quick journey instances and low fares, Seaplane Hong Kong thinks their plans for city air mobility automobiles, or drones, may very well be simply the factor to beat Hong Kong’s congested road site visitors.
Are passenger drones like this quickly to reach in Hong Kong? Photograph: EHang
“We are able to actually land on high of buildings,” mentioned Seaplane Hong Kong’s CEO Steven Cheung this week when discussing his plans.
Mr Cheung is behind bold plans to run a fleet of seaplanes providing aerial sightseeing, constitution, and air taxi companies round Hong Kong and the Higher Bay Space. Seaplane Hong Kong plans to make use of a fleet of 19 seat Twin Otter amphibious planes and make hiring one so simple as flicking open your smartphone. Of their pitch, Seaplane Hong Kong says;
“Seaplane Hong Kong might be offering top-notch aerial transportation companies from 2021, topic to regulatory approval.”
Seaplane Hong Kong eyes drone air taxi companies
This week, Seaplane Hong Kong added drones to the combo. In a media briefing, Mr Cheung mentioned;
“We might be increasing this city mobility, drones, from Hong Kong Central to Kwun Tong, after which to TKO (Tseung Kwan O), considerably decreasing journey time from 18 minutes to 6 minutes.
“We’ll do a trial simply earlier than the tip of this 12 months.
“At first, they are going to be flown with manned pilots, however they’re merely there for security functions.”
There are just a few caveats right here. Firstly, Seaplane Hong Kong wants to lift roughly US$13 million to get its seaplanes or drones into the air. The startup is reportedly aiming to do that through convertible notes and can also be trying to find “appropriate strategic companions and traders.” Second, any seaplane or drone operations will want regulatory approval. Seaplane Hong Kong doesn’t but have that. Third, Mr Cheung mentioned he’s speaking to drone producers however declines to say which of them.
Might passenger drones be the best answer to assist keep away from crowded Hong Kong streets? Photograph: Hong Kong Tourism Board
“We’re working with all the foremost producers to carry them (drones) to Hong Kong. We’ve listed one, they usually’ve mentioned the expertise is prepared. The producer can ship the plane within the subsequent three months.”
Seaplane Hong Kong isn’t the primary enterprise to drift the concept of passenger drones in congested city areas. A few years in the past, Uber famously proposed trialing pilotless drones between airports and downtown areas in a number of key cities. Uber later dropped the concept. Extra lately, AirAsia has mentioned it’s gearing as much as function manned passenger drones round Kuala Lumpur.
Might passenger drones work in Hong Kong?
Some pundits say Hong Kong’s steadily uneven Victoria Harbour, noise from seaplane operations, and regulatory hurdles make seaplane operations a tricky proposition there. However there’s additionally a practice of thought passenger drones may go well with the Hong Kong setting very properly.
Steven Cheung says a brief hop on a passenger drone might be very reasonably priced, with fares ranging from round US$25. The thought of skipping above the Hong Kong site visitors in a piloted drone with a few buddies, crossing the harbor rapidly, has some interesting logic to it.
Corporations like EHang are producing drones able to carrying passengers. Photograph: EHang
A number of drone producers have developed city mobility automobiles able to carrying passengers. However with most new applied sciences and concepts, there’s additionally a matter of overcoming regulatory and public resistance.
Nevertheless, Steven Cheung thinks he’s onto a profitable concept. Seaplane Hong Kong says NASA estimates the passenger drone trade is anticipated to succeed in US$16 billion by 2027. Seaplane Hong Kong would love a slice of that pie.
What do you suppose? What are the probabilities of drones flying passengers round Hong Kong within the subsequent couple of years? Publish a remark and tell us.