saudi hajj air taxi
Image Credit: Supplied

Mecca: Saudi Arabia has conducted its first air taxi trial in Mecca, setting the stage for future deployment as Hajj transportation for pilgrims.

Led by the 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, the trial featured an EH216-S pilotless eVTOL aircraft.

Saleh Al-Jasser, Minister of Transport and Logistics Services, said: "This 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.”

Highlighted as the 'World's first air taxi to be licensed by a civil aviation authority,' the electric air taxi's inaugural trial, witnessed by GACA President Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, involved vertical take-off.

Air taxi services transport pilgrims between the holy sites, facilitate emergency travel, transport medical equipment, and provide logistical services for transporting goods.

Saudi Air Taxi 2
Image Credit: SPA

Al Jasser stressed that this initiative is part of the ministry's endeavour to adopt cutting-edge transportation technologies and environment-friendly transportation models powered by artificial intelligence.

These innovations support the sustainability of the modern transportation sector and align with the objectives of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The trial provides invaluable insights and technical data to support GACA’s development of an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Roadmap, including a robust regulatory framework tailored to provide safe and sustainable air transport solutions for Hajj pilgrims. By significantly reducing travel and delivery times, air taxis can accelerate the mobility of pilgrims and goods and improve emergency medical services during Hajj. AAM solutions are projected to support tens of thousands of pilgrims and generate tens of millions in revenue by 2030.

Al-Duailej, said: "This Air Taxi Trial marks a major advancement in integrating Advanced Air Mobility solutions into Saudi Arabia’s aviation landscape. GACA is committed to enabling new safe and sustainable forms of air transport, elevating travel for pilgrims and passengers across Saudi Arabia. This trial acts as a proof of concept for multiple use cases and contributes to the advancement of mobility solutions across the Kingdom.”