Uber is making helicopter flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport available in New York City. For around $200 to $225, users can book a trip on the Uber app. The company announced that flights to and from Lower Manhattan were made available to all Uber users starting on October 3, 2019.
For the time being, Uber rides shuttling users to the heliport in Manhattan are only available from the southern tip of the Island. The UberCopter option only appears in the app for users located within the geofenced Lower Manhattan area, because outside of this area, the flight would not provide time savings.
Electric Aircraft Taxi Service of the Future
JFK is one of the largest airports in the U.S. The trip from Manhattan can take one to two hours by car or 50 to 75 minutes by public transport. With increasing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions in New York City, Uber hopes its Copter project will pave the way for a taxi service with electric aircraft that take off and land vertically.
Potential Liability Issues with New Helicopter Rideshare Service
For Uber ridesharing on the ground, the company carries third-party liability insurance with limits of up to $1 million per accident for personal injuries and property damage. This coverage only kicks in when a trip is accepted until the passenger exits the vehicle. If an Uber driver causes an accident when he or she is logged into the app and waiting for a ride request, the company offers a lower level of liability coverage.
UberCopter flights are provided by third-party direct air carrier operators (“Copter-partners”) in much the same way that drivers who are independent contractors provide Uber ridesharing in their vehicles on the ground. Uber provides the app, but the Copter-partners maintain operational control of each flight. This gives rise to questions about who is liable if a helicopter accident causes injury to passengers, or to others in the air or on the ground.
Concerns About Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft
Uber plans to eventually launch Uber Air, a taxi service of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. There are currently approximately 150 organizations working on electric-powered Vertical TakeOff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, as stated in an article in Forbes. The market for this type of vehicle is expected to reach $13.8 billion by the year 2040.
However, Uber and other organizations are facing hurdles with this technology that include battery power limitations and the potential for low-level air traffic congestion. Questions arise as to how these aircraft will be controlled – remotely, with a human pilot in the cockpit, or autonomously. One important question that remains to be answered is which insurance company will cover vehicles, passengers, and victims on the ground in case of Uber Air accidents and injuries.
Get Legal Help After a Ridesharing Accident
If you have been injured in an Uber or ridesharing accident caused by someone else’s negligence, either in the air or on the ground, contact Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353. Our New York personal injury attorneys have won hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. We have the knowledge, skills, and dedication to pursue the compensation you deserve aggressively.