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BRS eyes air taxis of the futureBRS eyes air taxis of the future

BRS Aerospace has joined the conga line of general aviation manufacturers seeking to supply equipment to meet Uber's demand for electric air taxis able to whisk passengers between city rooftops.

Embraer X is among several aircraft makers seeking to create flying taxis for rooftop-to-rooftop service in cities. Image courtesy of Embraer.

The Minnesota company that makes airframe parachute systems for GA aircraft had tallied 380 lives saved by the time it issued a May 15 press release announcing development of a parachute system for future electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. BRS Aerospace was also among the presenters at the recent Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles, where Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer unveiled a concept design for its own eVTOL offering of the future, joining a growing list of aircraft makers large and small eyeing the potential of a vast new market with obvious enthusiasm.

BRS Aerospace has begun working with multiple manufacturers to design a ballistic recovery system (or whole-airframe parachute) for eVTOL aircraft that may have a mix of helicopter and airplane features, or other design characteristics that make parachute integration more challenging. BRS products have been installed in more than 35,000 aircraft to date, ranging in size from ultralights to the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. The design varies by aircraft size, but all are packed in a launcher that is installed in the airframe, and deployed when initiated by the pilot. While Uber has conceded the need to begin air taxi service with pilots aboard to keep its ambitious timeline for first flights in 2020 and regular service by 2023, the tech company hopes to eventually win approval for autonomous aircraft.

“Autonomous flight over highly populated urban environments is a challenge that will require a lot of work," said BRS Aerospace President and Director Enrique Dillon, in a news release. "Safety both in the air and on the ground is not an option anymore, and we are not there yet. But I have no doubt that urban air mobility not too far from today will become a reality."

Many small drones have been equipped with scaled-down parachute systems that are designed to deploy automatically if the drone begins falling faster than a preset rate, so this could prove another example of technology crossover between traditional and unmanned aviation, which has been happening a lot lately—in both directions.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.

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