CASA will consider Uber Air proposal on merit

Above the trams: Embraer's proposed urban air vehicle, imagined over Melbourne. Source: Uber

Melbourne commuters could be travelling in a pilotless flying taxi by 2023, and CASA is working with the organisation involved in this ambitious project.

Yesterday technology and transport company Uber named Melbourne as the first international Uber Air pilot city, joining Los Angeles and Dallas. The first demonstration flights could occur as early as late 2020 in Dallas, with Uber expecting to offer commercial flights from 2023.

CASA has met Uber Elevate several times to discuss regulatory issues around the use of air taxis and looks forward to continuing to work with them on this exciting initiative.

CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said that the announcement reflected CASA’s experience as a pioneer in safely regulating drones.

‘This year Australia became the first country in the world to approve a commercial drone delivery system – Wing – in Canberra,’ Gibson said.

‘Our experience with Wing means we have experience in evaluating innovative ideas and working with operators to ensure that their proposed operations can be done safely.

Gibson said the electric aircraft would be built and certified for commercial use in the US. CASA’s role would be to ensure an appropriate regulatory framework for operations of the new aircraft configuration. ‘We’re aware we will have to face new safety issues, but we’re confident of doing that, and we welcome the Uber Air decision,’ Gibson said.

‘We don’t see anything insurmountable,’ Gibson said. ‘We’ve had quite a few discussions at a fairly detailed level with Uber prior to this announcement and they’ve got a good understanding of what our requirements are. We’re very supportive, but we can assure people we won’t just be ticking off on it.’

‘Safety is our priority and the public should have confidence that we will review any requests from Uber and consider all of the safety and regulatory issues within our remit before providing them with any permissions.’

Uber Elevate has not yet applied for any regulatory permissions for the aircraft or routes they intend to fly – CASA will consider any application when received to ensure that it provides a high level of aviation safety.

Uber intends to use a specially designed vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft and has partnered with Bell Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences (a Boeing company), Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, and Mooney to build the vehicles and the necessary infrastructure to support and power them, with each company working on a different design.






  1. Christ there wouldn’t be enuf popcorn on the planet to entertain the troops whilst this debacle goes thru the hoops!
    Talk about pie in the sky stuff! But hey they are entitled to try I guess:-)
    Bring it on, much entertainment ahead that’s for sure:-)

  2. Scrap it before this madness starts. You will be complicit in manslaughter if you permit this operation

  3. Develop the concept, purchase a suitable vehicle that doesn’t yet exist, gain the full confidence of the travelling public and get CASA approval all before 2023? There’s more chance that I could train my pigs to fly to the airport before this thought bubble comes to fruition.

    This announcement, totally out of the blue, wouldn’t have something to do with the State Government blowing their infrastructure budget and trying to get out of their election promise to build the airport rail link? I did hear Treasurer Tim Pallas saying that the Uber proposal would be up and running years before the rail link. I think I smell a political rat!

  4. Just nice it would be nice if an adult in the room would step up and point out that this is just Uber being Uber, which is to say a publicity hungry company playing games. Autonomous flying taxis by 2023? We know how it will go… Uber will say they had it all ready to go but were stymied by an uncooperative regulator and supplier issues.

  5. What we need is a fast train service between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
    One that can carry all the interstate trucks as well.
    Europe has them, drive on, drive off so the truckies save fuel and get some sleep.

    • Fast trains in Australia…not likely in our lifetime. ..the big daily papers were full of an impending fast rail service Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra…who remembers that about 30 years ago.
      (ditto: Uber self fly taxis..maybe in the distant future)

  6. Pilotless flying taxis, perhaps that may eventuate. What I’m really frightened of is flying cars especially if they become available to anyone and everyone.

    • I Guess You would still require a pilot’s licence and a very large wallet which would preclude most teens and hoons to some degree.

      • It’s the hoons without licences who steal vehicles for a joyride that I would worry about.

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