Sci-Tech | Aug 05

Tokyo eyes flying-car landing pads atop skyscrapers

Mitsubishi Estate is readying for Japan's first crewed flying-vehicle test flights in fiscal 2024, turning the rooftops of Tokyo high-rises it owns into takeoff and landing pads.

The real estate developer has been picked as an operator of a Tokyo Metropolitan Government project, partnering with Japan Airlines as well as Kanematsu, a trading house that has a tie-up with Skyports, a U.K. developer of landing infrastructure.

Rooftops of Mitsubishi Estate skyscrapers in Tokyo's Marunouchi business district are being considered as possible pad sites, as are suburban parking lots it owns. Aircraft from Volocopter, a German startup in which JAL has a stake, are under consideration.

Hopes are high for electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, which offer flexible mobility, to reduce traffic and even shuttle visitors between airports and tourist destinations. The Yano Research Institute sees the global eVTOL flying-car market growing to exceed 120 trillion yen ($900 billion) by 2050.

Many players in Japan seek to take their businesses to the skies at the Osaka World Expo in 2025. Mitsubishi Estate aims to achieve a commercial launch in the second half of the 2020s, leasing takeoff and landing platforms to aircraft operators. It also plans to expand the business beyond Tokyo to Nagoya and Osaka. ...continue reading


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