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Utah launches first air taxi that can transport packages, people via the sky

Posted at 12:13 PM, May 21, 2024

SALT LAKE CITY — It may not be too far in the future; instead of waiting for an Uber or Lyft, travel like the Jetsons through the sky via an air taxi.

That's because the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah State University launched the state’s first air taxi from a vertiport on May 20, using a Bell 505 Helicopter with the ability to land near homes or businesses.

“The successful launch of a simulated air taxi from a vertiport gives us a sneak peek at our future,” said Paul Damron, UDOT advanced air mobility manager.

“We plan to create a well-functioning transportation system in the air that connects safely and seamlessly with the transportation system on the ground. This vertiport demonstration shows how the integration can be done well.”

Monday's demonstration was the result of years of research to identify safe locations for veriports along the Wasatch Front.

A vertiport is an area used for aircraft that can transport packages and people, and might range from a parking lot to a rooftop as well as traditional airports.

“Our main objective was to identify locations for air taxis and air package delivery that minimize impacts to homes and businesses while balancing safety and opportunity,” said Dr. Brent Chamberlain, USU Associate Professor in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

“We determined there are many places of optimal vertiport sites in the region that could fit nicely into the local community fabric, supporting commerce and essential services.”

Governor Spencer Cox requested $1.9 million in 2025 state funding for aerial transportation investments, which was fully funded by the the Utah legislature.

“Cutting-edge technologies such as air taxis and package delivery will make all of our lives better,” UDOT Aeronautics Director Matt Maass said.

“With this demonstration, we are leading yet another innovation that brings us one step closer to creating an aerial transportation system all Utahns can enjoy.”