Airbus Finds Niche For Voom Helicopter Service
Airbus is now 100 days in to its helicopter-for-hire experiment in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and says the Voom project is already having a “significant impact.” The routes take travelers between the city center and the outlying airports, cutting an “unbearable” three-hour ride in heavy traffic down to just 11 minutes by helicopter. “This is just plain awesome,” says Voom CEO Uma Subramanian in a blog post, “since it could conceivably take double the amount of time to find a parking space in downtown São Paulo.” The project has been developed by A3, the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus, the same outfit that has been working to develop aviation technology that could solve the Bay Area’s traffic problems. The flights cost less than one-quarter what a traditional air-taxi service would charge.
Voom users can access a simple-to-use app that makes it easy to find and book a flight “within seconds.” Travelers then arrive at the helipad just 15 minutes before scheduled boarding time. The service partners with accredited RBAC Part 135 taxi operators that operate a variety of different helicopters. According to The Wall Street Journal, a taxi to the airport would cost about $55 and take at least an hour even in light traffic. A traditional helicopter charter for two would cost about $1,000, and the Voom trips cost about $100 to $200, depending on demand and availability. Subramanian told Reuters the company plans to expand operations to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, in Brazil, and Mexico City, by the end of the year.