Several industries could drastically change because of new aircraft and "unmanned aerial systems" (also known as drones) in the future, one aviation expert believes.
Terence Fontaine, Aviation Executive Director at Texas Southern University, said electrical vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts, or eVTOLs, could change how some people move around Houston in just a few years.
"One day in Houston we will have the ability to fly taxis literally in the air," he said.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the new aircrafts would take off in helicopter mode, transition into airplane mode for over-skyline flying, and then transition back to helicopter mode for landing. They would require a pilot for flight but would be powered by electric batteries and expected to cost less to maintain than helicopters.
They said eVTOLS could be used to transport cargo and passengers, help with firefighting, and provide search and rescue operations.
"I think there is obviously a nationwide push to see [eVTOLS], NASA is involved so these eVTOLS are coming," said Fontaine.
The potential air taxi process is described to be just like a regular taxi. According to a report done by Axios, most eVTOL companies are aiming for the fares to be similar to Uber Black prices.
"You would call or make a reservation and say ‘I would like to go from Neiman Marcus over to Pappas Steakhouse and I need a ride,'" Fontaine said. "They would have a spot where you would go to take off, and go and fly over to Pappas and let you off."
Fontaine says TSU will prepare their aviation students to be a part of the development of eVTOLS and drones within multiple industries, including photography and videography, and various businesses.
"The schools that can educate along those lines and are first in the game will be successful, and TSU wants to be the early adopter of some of this technology," he said.
The program will focus on investing in the youth and giving them the opportunity to gain the basics of drones and aviation. Students will also be given the opportunity to gain their drone license while in the class.
The FAA says they are making steady progress certifying aircraft and pilots, planning for integration of these aircraft into the airspace, and collaborating internationally.
A California based aviation company, Joby, is a top company bringing eVTOLS to the streets of the U.S. In 2021, they received a special airworthiness certificate and approval of its second pre-production prototype from both the FAA and US Air Force. They hope to have the eVOTLS for commercial release in 2024.