Market Study: 400,000 Air Taxis by 2040


In just two decades, there could be some 430,000 air taxis operating worldwide, according to industry analyst Frost & Sullivan. The company further predicts the push for so-called urban air mobility will emerge not from the U.S. or Europe, but from the Middle East, commencing in just two years.

“The United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, and Singapore are expected to be the first adopters of air taxis, while Brazil and Mexico … [will be] leveraging their helicopter taxi expertise,” said Joe Praveen Vijayakumar, Frost & Sullivan’s mobility analyst. He said nearly 50 cities are studying the feasibility of UAM, initially for cargo operations but later for passenger flights over congested cityscapes.

“Globally, almost 50 cities are considering the feasibility of UAM, and most of the applications are focused on cargo drones, which will eventually open up the market for passenger UAM vehicles,” Vijayakumar added. Frost sees the influx of established aerospace companies such as Boeing and Airbus combined with technological advances driving the UAM market. The data, if it pans out, is staggering. The company sees an annual UAM growth rate of 45.9 percent and a worldwide fleet of 430,000 air taxis of various types by 2040.

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  1. Need aviation development money? VTOL has always been the place to get it from. Never ending supply. New recipe guaranteed for even better results?…add electricity, green, and zero emissions.

    Quoted from Air Progress magazine, July 1966 edition under Aeronews:

    Title: Switchblade Plane: Compound aircraft – combination helicopter and fixed wing plane – could be operational in five years on military logistic and ground support missions, two Lockheed engineers reported recently. They outlined proposed aircraft which would take off like a helicopter, stop its rotor blades and fold them, and fly on as 500MPH fixed wing plane. Lockheed, whose experimental XH-51A rigid rotor, compound vehicle has flown at 272MPH, fastest known rotor-craft speed, has been working on folded-blade concept for four years. (picture shown in article)

    Title: Pathfinder II: Under a joint Army-Navy contract directed by US Army Aviation material laboratories, Piasecki Aircraft’s new 16H-1A compound helicopter is to provide data at speeds in excess of 225MPH. It will be flown with maximum payloads as STOL operating like conventional fixed wing aircraft, with higher cruising speed and longer range than copters. ( picture shown of 16H-1A in article)

    Title: Airbuses Feasible? Three airlines, TWA, United, and Delta, have chipped in to buy a $350,000 study of airbuses with helicopter capabilities and capacities for 90 passengers. Lockheed Aircraft is conducting the feasibility inquiry under contract from NASA.

    Title: North American Aviation Hoverbuggy: A vertical takeoff and landing flying simulator is expected find solutions to many problems associated with VTOL vehicles. The 3000lb device is powered by two JY-85 General Electric jet engines. It will be flown on a telescopic captive rig, then free flight. Box structure is extruded aluminum. ( picture of completed vehicle shown)

    At least that money produced some flying vehicles 54+ years ago.

    And Molt Taylor had 6 certified flying car/airplanes in the air including N103D providing traffic watch(AIRWATCH) for KISN radio out of Portland, OR from 1961-63…morning and evening. Incidentally, that one is for sale at $2.2 million.

    430,000 additional air taxis and the US/FAA is having trouble getting 220,000 airplanes ADS-B compliant within 10 years and figure out separating one million plus existing drone/UAV/UAM/UAS’s from each other and manned aircraft…( I am sure there are other VTOL acronyms developed over 54 years I am missing).

    At some time, “the sky is falling” may be more literal than we think. However, the largest chance of that happening seems to be headed first for United Emirates, New Zealand, and Singapore.

    And the beat goes on…

  2. I still don’t get how this is any different than using a helicopter, which at least already exist with pilots to fly them. Turning the helicopter into a 4-rotor “UAM” is not going to make them any quieter or more desirable than a helicopter. About the only difference I can tell is that they use electric motors and shrouded rotors. But if you’re going to go through the trouble, why not just take an existing helicopter design and convert it to an electric motor (with a fuel-powered engine to supply the power)?

    • Why did they design 4-wheeled automobiles when they could have simply motorized the horse? Traditional helicopters were designed around the limitations of internal combustion engines. With electric propulsion, it’s very easy to distribute power (wires) to multiple motors. This allows new configurations with improved redundancy, and the elimination of tail rotors, collectives, etc.

  3. I’m a little surprised that Paul would pass along this bit of futuristic marketing fluff without one hint of his wry brand of skeptical objectivity. He’s more critical of the questionable Icon and the highly successful Cirrus products than this bit of nonsense, which is of the type that always seems to creep into aviation publications when the days are short, the weather sucks, and flying hours are few.

    If Paul feels compelled to pass along this treacle without comment, perhaps he needs to develop an alter-ego for the by-line so that when we see the name we all know that what we’re about to read, after we have digested all the real aviation news, is pretty much marketing horse manure – kind of like Airbus investing heavily in electric planes.

    I’m sure he’d be open to suggestions as to the made-up name. I’d like to suggest Peter Bertinelli; because the name Peter is kind of like Paul and Bertinelli kind of sounds like Bertoreli; and everyone likes Valerie Bertinelli (hope you keep the weight off, Val, we’re all pulling for ya).

  4. Who paid for the market study? Market analysts generating stuff like this have very little at stake. Their reputation is rarely affected whether the staying power of their speculative WAG turns out to be a fart in the wind or in a tanning booth. Seems to me that just like “climate change” used to be “global warming”, “400,000 Air Taxis by 2040” used to be “we’ll all have flying cars by 1970”.

    • Nature is demonstrably lazy; it’s just easier to be in a herd, or not be the lead goose in a flight. Unfortunately that also means most people do not use their critical thinking skills. The trick of propaganda is making it sound like the herd is “moving this way” assuming natural laziness will mean people will fall in line with the herd. Herds also move faster and more together if there is danger or a “crisis”.

      The more I hear about a climate crisis or an energy crisis or a political crisis; the more that “I” stand back and look for the cowboy that trying to drive the herd to market….

    • No magic required! Most electric VTOL are being designed for short commuter applications. For example, a 5 minute hop across the San Francisco Bay vs a 2 hour traffic nightmare by car. Such missions are entirely feasible with existing battery technology; the same stuff that’s already mass produced for automobiles. If you value your time, then an air taxi starts to look like a free ride.

      • How is that profitable when you factor in the down time waiting for a charge? If you fast charge, then the cycle life deteriorates and shortens the flight time. And don’t forget, most video I’ve seen are without a payload. These devices are for the rich and famous who already use helicopters. And why would they risk their lives in craft with no backup like counter rotation?

  5. Hopefully the new UAV Air Taxis will also incorporate some AI in order to protect those passengers who haven’t already been weeded out of the herd due to the proliferation of bicycle helmets, automotive seat belts / airbags and child proof prescription bottles.

  6. To quote Yogi Berra, “Making predictions is hard, especially about the future”. I’d be really interested in seeing what assumptions they used in making this prediction. They did say that it would include mostly freight hauling UAVs first and people haulers later. Making drones to carry stuff is easy; Amazon, et. al. do that already. Making drones to carry a couple 200 pound people is another matter. If the people haulers work just on short hops around crowded city centers, they will only comprise a small segment of the overall drone fleet.

    At this point, battery capacity is the primary stumbling block for widespread electric flight, and unless there is a major breakthrough in battery technology, people haulers with any appreciable range are far off. Don’t assume that automotive R&D will produce such wonder batteries. Auto makers want the least expensive technology that is easy to mass produce. Weight is a secondary concern. Aircraft designers want both powerful and light, as well as quick-charge capability. All those attributes would mean a very expensive product with limited production. I wish them luck, but for now I’ll drop this in the wait and see file and check back in a few years.

  7. Researching the topic I found the following article. Amazing.

    “Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, Worldwide (2019-2040): Growth Opportunities, Major Participants, Infrastructure & Support, Key Challenges, Platforms & Technologies”–support-key-challenges-platforms–technologies-300963732.html

  8. Researching the topic I found the following article. Amazing.

    “Analysis of Urban Air Mobility and the Evolving Air Taxi Landscape, Worldwide (2019-2040): Growth Opportunities, Major Participants, Infrastructure & Support, Key Challenges, Platforms & Technologies”–support-key-challenges-platforms–technologies-300963732.html