Airbus Partners With Uber For Helicopter Service

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Airbus has partnered up with Uber to make it possible for travelers to book a helicopter using the Uber app, CEO Thomas Enders said at an industry conference on Sunday. The app will be the first step in a project that aims to “connect air transport to ground transport in an integrated way,” he said. Enders, speaking at the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference, in Munich, said the project is part of the new Airbus Ventures venture-capital fund in Silicon Valley, which launched in May with $150 million. The fund will invest in “promising, disruptive and innovative business opportunities around the globe,” Enders said. That could include flying cars. “We now have the precision of navigation systems and the computer power to make such things possible,” Enders said, “but we need investors with less close control.”

Enders also said his company is exploring new ways to use “big data” to create new businesses. For example, a flight from Munich to Barcelona generates 1 terabyte of data, documenting 450,000 parameters. “But only 0.1 percent of big data is really used,” Ender said. The company also is looking at the potential of building “microfactories” in communities around the world, which they hope will decrease the development costs and time-to-market for airplanes in the future, according to DLD’s blog. The Airbus Ventures fund also has already invested in Local Motors, a company based in Phoenix, Arizona, according to Fortune. That company hopes to “revolutionize auto and aerospace design by using the free contributions of volunteer engineers and researchers ... [and] then produce them using 3D printing technology,” according to Fortune.

Airbus wouldn’t be the first to use an app for helicopter bookings — Blade has been offering that service for New York City travelers for a couple of years. The ease of use has been blamed for an upsurge in helicopter flights in the region, causing conflict with summer residents of the Hamptons.