The UK Government has outlined a roadmap for the use of drones and electric air taxis as it plans to see the first electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flying taxi flight in the country by 2026. 

The Future of Flight action plan estimated that the Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAW) market could contribute £45bn to the UK economy by 2030 if the technology is adopted at scale. 

In addition to predicting the first air taxi flight, the plan also claims that regular drone deliveries could be taking place in the UK by 2027 and the first demonstrations of autonomous air taxis without pilots on board could occur by 2030. 

Aviation Minister Anthony Browne said: “Cutting-edge battery technology will revolutionise transport as we know it – this plan will make sure we have the infrastructure and regulation in place to make it a reality.” 

The plan was sponsored by the government’s Future of Flight Industry Group which is co-chaired by Browne and includes representatives from organisations across the industry including NATS, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Joby Aviation, UK-based Vertical Aerospace.

Along with setting out its expectations for the industry in the UK, the plan also outlines a UAS pathway leading to the use of drones beyond the pilot’s line of sight in non-segregated airspace and subsequently in integrated airspace at scale. 

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Additionally, an eVTOL pathway outlines steps that should be taken to encourage piloted eVTOL aircraft flights in the UK occurring at scale and the operation of autonomous eVTOL aircraft. 

Sophie O’Sullivan, head of future safety and innovation at the CAA, said: “Aviation stands on the cusp of its next, potentially biggest, revolution since the invention of the jet engine. Drones, eVTOL and other different vehicles have the potential to change transportation options forever. 

“We welcome the firm direction the government’s Future of Flight action plan provides for the industry as it continues to innovate.” 

While the eVTOL industry is yet to establish as strong a presence in the UK as it has in places like the US, many companies looking into the sector have been setting up operations in the country including Volocopter and Bristow Group which are looking into developing passenger and cargo services. 

Additionally, local companies such as Vertical Aerospace and MGI Engineering are working on their own eVTOL products, with the latter focussing on a cargo demonstrator programme.