Moving toward aerial mobility: behind the scenes of the Airbus and RATP partnership

The news from these last few weeks hasn’t gone unnoticed. The giants of air travel (Airbus) and road/rail (RATP) are working together to offer a flying shuttle service. With this new mode of public transportation, it’ll be possible to travel by air between work and home.

Transportation has so far only been designed for land. However, it would seem that recent technological advances in terms of artificial intelligence and the improvement of drones have given the RATP some ideas.


Flying shuttles in parisian sky, dream or truth ?

These two companies mostly retain their own expertise: each in their own domain. However, airways are currently only used for long trips covering many kilometers. It seems to be a daring, if not risky, proposition.

Another obstacle is the French government, which prohibits all aircraft flying over the capital for security reasons. It’s quite a blow for the transportation giants, who nevertheless don’t seem too worried. If the system isn’t denied, flying shuttles will be able to serve the suburbs, thus freeing up the Parisian transportation networks.


Airbus and RATP: friends or foes with respect to mobility?

In addition, priorities differ.

According to Catherine Guillouard, CEO of the RATP, developing a new mobility and new services for the cities of tomorrow must be a priority. If the test phase proves to be successful, the project will be deployed internationally, and users will be able to benefit from this service for 1-2€ per kilometer.

Guillaume Faury, Executive President of Airbus, prefers to advocate for its security. He’s not concerned about the development of this partnership; he does, however, insist on the need to integrate this new system into the daily lives of Parisians. Indeed, for him, there’s no point in continuing if safety is not an integral part of the project.


A five-year period full of promises

Airbus and the RATP are giving themselves five years to put this concept of flying shuttles into service in the Île-de-France region. Five years seems a bit short in light of the design and construction of one or more prototypes and several possible tests,

especially since the project is so ambitious. These shuttles must have enough space to transport up to six passengers. The most attentive among you will notice that we’re not talking about drivers; only passengers, as these shuttles will also be fully autonomous.

No reason to fear! You’ll recall that autonomy with respect to public transportation is no longer a novelty in France. Île-de-France has already shown this to be true with its numerous tramways and metro lines 1 and 14. In the long term, the objective is for the region to automate all the most-traveled metro lines.


Île-de-France, the big winner in this collaboration

Indeed, the region’s first goal is to cut road traffic in half by 2050. Freeway congestion remains a real headache in Île-de-France, and air pollution is becoming so bad that Ile-de-France regularly organizes days on which transportation in the area is free. Encouraging and facilitating public transportation remains a priority for the region.

According to our colleagues at Les Echos magazine, there are 250,000 drivers each day on Parisian streets.


After conquering the road, Uber wants to conquer space

And by space, we mean airspace. The public is surprised yet eager to see these transportation modes up and running. However, Airbus and RATP are not the only ones in the race.

Indeed, Uber has announced the opening of the ACTP (Advanced Technologies Centre – Paris) in Autumn 2019. This center, dedicated to the research and study of flying taxis, has a budget of 20 million euros spread out over 5 years. In the end, the ACTP wants to offer an urban aerial transportation solution at an affordable price, already called Uber Elevate.



So these days, it’s a battle between all the transportation market leaders. The winner will be the one who brings flying shuttles to market first.

It’s a race to the stars…or rather to the sky!


To read: Public transportation: moving toward autonomous mobility