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Uber Reportedly Planning “Skyport” Operations in Santa Monica for UberAir

 
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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

November 9, 2017 -- Uber, the giant ride-hailing taxi service, is reportedly planning to fly a new breed of electric aircraft out of Santa Monica by 2020, company officials announced Wednesday.

Ubersaid it has contracted a developer, Sandstone Properties, to build skyports at Los Angeles International Airport as well as in Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks.

Ubeair cab
Uberair flying cab (Image Courtesy Aurora Flight Sciences )

Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, also said Uber had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to develop a new air traffic control system to manage the low-flying futuristic looking aircraft that would fly over car-clogged Southern California.

If Uber is interested in SMO, a representative said the City, which owns the airport, has not received any kind of notification.

“It is premature to speculate at this point,” said Suja Lowenthal, the City Manager’s top advisor on airport issues. “I am not aware that we have heard from Sandstone Properties or Uber.

"At this time, we are not aware of Uber’s plans outside what has been reported by the press," she said. "There would be some approvals required by City, State, and Federal entities.”

The news was not as warmly received in Santa Monica, which is slated to close its municipal airport by the end of 2028 after a decades-long battle led by residents to shut the 227-acre facility.

Anti-SMO forces are skeptical about the airport ever closing, and closely monitoring all aviation with plans to use the airport in hopes of convincing those companies to go somewhere else.

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“There needs to be rules that give real consideration to the levels of aviation impacts that affect the people on the ground, especially residents near airports,” said Martin Rubin, the head of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP).

“Noise and air pollution are a public health concern. These kinds of aviation businesses care nothing about how they affect SMO neighbors,” he said.

So far, it is unclear where Uber hopes to locate the operation hubs for UberAir, although the company did specify LAX and downtown L.A.

Uber also announced it has signed an agreement with Sandstone Properties to develop “skyport infrastructure to serve as takeoff and landing hubs for UberAIR flights at Sandstone’s 20 locations in the greater L.A. area," according to published reports.

The L.A. region would be the second US city to get UberAir’s “flying cars,” after Dallas, which was announced as the first location for UberAir -- at the company's Elevate Summit in April.

Dubai is slated to be the first location for launch outside the US.

The Los Angeles Times said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is generally supportive of Uber’s plans, which the company claims could zoom through the skies from LAX to the Staples Center in downtown L.A. in just 30 minutes -- only a third of the time it would take to get there using gridlocked freeways and surface streets.

 


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