Martin Warner, the millionaire entrepreneur and CEO of UK urban air mobility (UAM) startup Autonomous Flight, says his rollout of air taxi service in the country could come as soon as 2024, and cost no more than a (somewhat pricey) Uber ride.
Warner earned his fortune and fame as an investor and manager in a variety of sectors and companies, including his independent film streaming service Flix Premiere. Given his knack of putting his fingers in activities with increasingly racing pulses, it isn’t surprising the 49-year-old is among the growing ranks of financiers piling into ascending UAM companies. In his case, however, Warner has sunk his money into his own Autonomous Flight business that he founded in 2017.
Of late, various UK media reports have quoted him as saying he’s looking for the company to put its six-seat Y6S Plus into air taxi service in 2024.
“The past 12 months have been marked by key company milestones and we are excitingly taking that bold step from concept, to prototype and eventual deployment,” UK media Express quoted Warner saying this month. “We are edging ever closer to a reality where drones will become a regular mode of transport in cities. We are years away from this reality, not decades.”
The Y65S Plus is, as the name indicates, a stretch version of its two-seater Y65S electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. The prototype operates using a main rear wing with a pair of rotors attached, and a smaller forward wing with a pair of motors on either side. The UAM craft is said to operate at a cruise speed of 125 mph, with a maximum range of 80 miles on a single charge. Warner says the company will begin taking pre-orders this year.
UK media coverage of Warner’s recent comments say he initially plans to operate up to nine air taxi routes in London. They are to include 12-minute air taxi shuttles between Heathrow Airport and Charring Cross in the city’s center. There are also plans for UAM services in both Liverpool and Manchester.
Though no word was made of it in the recent articles, Autonomous Flight’s website also has a map of New York showing an eight-minute flight from Lower Manhattan to JFK. The reports do, however, cite Warner estimating the price of UAM air taxi flights to and from Heathrow and central London as likely to cost around $135.
The Kent-born Warner founded the company with a reported $1 million investment of his own money, and has raised a total $32 million in Series A and B funding rounds last year. He’s planning an additional $100 million C Series infusion for 2022, reports say, to fuel the testing, certification, and rollout of his UAM craft and debut of air taxi services.
There remains a great deal to do in that relatively short space of time. But with his past business achievements adding to his evident confidence, Warner says he sees no trouble meeting his goals from either regulators or investors – most of whom are also getting excited about the budding future of air travel.
“Governments and larger companies clearly see the growth potential on offer and there is now a race to become a global leader in urban air mobility,” he said. “I’m proud to say that Autonomous Flight is at the forefront of this disruptive technology.”
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