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Saudi Arabia conducts first air taxi trial for transporting Hajj pilgrims

June 13, 2024 at 6:49 pm

Flying taxi [@insharifain/X]

Saudi Arabia has carried out its first trial of air taxis in Makkah for their future use during the Hajj pilgrimage, as the Kingdom looks to further streamline the industry in its increasing tech-driven modernisation drive.

Branded the ‘World’s first air taxi to be licensed by a civil aviation authority’, an EH216-S pilotless eVTOL aircraft was successfully flown this week in an inaugural trial which saw the air taxi take off vertically. It was led by the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and Logistics Services, the Ministry of Hajj, the Ministry of Interior and Front End Limited Company.

GACA’s president, Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, who witnessed the trial, stated that the trial “marks a major advancement in integrating Advanced Air Mobility solutions into Saudi Arabia’s aviation landscape.” Emphasising GACA’s commitment to “enabling new safe and sustainable forms of air transport, elevating travel for pilgrims and passengers across Saudi Arabia”, Al-Duailej said the “trial acts as a proof of concept for multiple use cases and contributes to the advancement of mobility solutions across the Kingdom”.

In the coming years, the air taxis will perform a variety of services including transporting pilgrims between the holy sites, facilitating emergency travel, transporting medical equipment and providing logistical services for the transportation of goods.

According to Saleh Al-Jasser, the Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Services, the “groundbreaking trial is a pivotal step towards a faster, more efficient and sustainable Hajj travel. Saudi Arabia is leveraging pioneering technologies to empower pilgrims with a seamless and sustainable pilgrimage experience.”

The Minister also highlighted the trial as a significant development to the Kingdom’s advancement of technological capabilities in numerous sectors, stressing that the initiative is part of the Ministry’s aims to adopt the latest transportation technologies and environmentally-friendly transportation models powered by artificial intelligence.

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