Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is partnering with Uber to provide on-demand services called UberChopper. As the name of the service suggests, a helicopter, and not a jumbo jet, will be used to pick Uber users.
Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus, says that it is a pilot project and the company is very excited to see how riders respond to the service. Enders also announced that UberChopper will launch at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, which starts on Jan. 21. However, Airbus did not provide any financial details of the agreement with Uber.
Uber launched the ride hailing service in 2009 and the popularity has been growing ever since. The company has launched its services in more than 50 countries and across 300 cities around the globe.
Apart from car services the company has also used other modes of transportation such as boats and rickshaws as part of its services in some countries. UberChopper will be one of a kind at launch and the company hopes to get to a new level with the service.
Uber's helicopter service may sound new to many people but the company has been working on UberChopper for some years now. The company first tested the service in 2013 for flying riders from Manhattan and the Hamptons. The on-demand service was also tested in 2015 summer at the Cannes Film Festival and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. The service did cost customers hundreds and thousands of dollars.
An Airbus spokesperson revealed that UberChopper will use Airbus H125 and H130 helicopters for its pilot project. Customers will get an Uber car to be picked up and taken to the helicopters.
The reducing cost of oil has affected many Airbus customers and a partnership with Uber reflects at the company's effort to find new helicopter customers. In December 2015, Enders announced that the company's helicopter business has struggled in 2014 and 2015.
A partnership with Uber is very innovative, especially at a time when companies are searching for new business avenues such as Google venturing in the autonomous car market.
In 2015, Airbus also established a new unit called Airbus Group Ventures and funded it with $150 million. The fund will be used to make investments in the technology field.
Talking about Iran, Enders also suggests that the country has a lot of opportunity for the company.
"It's a huge market and I really hope that those who are party to this agreement really don't screw it up," says Enders.
Airbus estimates that Iran needs between 400 and 500 aircrafts in the coming years as the country is using old aircrafts.