helicopter, New York City, new york

According to documents obtained by Bloomberg, Uber Technologies, Inc. is testing a helicopter service in New York City. After outlining test flights, a route from a heliport in Lower Manhattan heliport to John F. Kennedy International Airport and back, carrying five passengers each way, was discovered to be just an eight-minute trip in total.

The same trip by car takes at least an hour, or possibly even over two in rush-hour traffic conditions. Other modes of transit, such as the subway or the Long Island Railroad, will typically set riders back between 50 and 75 minutes.

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A New York Times article first broke the news of Uber’s impending expansion into aerial passenger transport, reporting that it will be called Uber Copter and is set to debut on July 9, 2019.

Eric Allison, the head of Uber Elevate—Uber’s division dedicated to aerial aircraft development—told the Times, “This is a trip that so many travelers make a day, and we see an opportunity to save them a huge amount of time on it.”

Uber Copter will be available only to those belonging to the top two tiers—Platinum and Diamond members—of the company’s loyalty program, Uber Rewards. For a one-way flight, the average ride cost should be between $200 and $225 per person and will include private ground transportation on both ends of the trip.

The Uber Copter service will be available for booking on demand, or up to five days in advance, and will run Monday through Friday during the afternoon rush hour. As with the company’s car ride-hailing service, actual rates will fluctuate according to current demand, among other factors.

Aircraft operations themselves will be handled by HeliFlite, a Newark-based company with a fleet of twin-engine helicopters. Two pilots will be on every flight, and passengers will watch a 90-second safety video prior to take-off.

“Our plan is to eventually roll out Uber Copter to more Uber customers and to other cities, but we want to do it right,” Mr. Allison said. “The main goal of this initial venture is to understand the operations behind aerial vehicles.”

For more information, visit uber.com.