Using air taxis as ferry alternatives in Seattle

26 May 2023
An artist's rendering of the SkyBus air taxi that can transport 40 passengers. Source: Lyte Aviation

Lyte Aviation is working with the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Institute in a new proposed project to test how electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft could be used to transport commuters in Seattle, Washington, instead of traditional water-based ferries.

Under the project, Lyte’s 40-seat SkyBus air taxi would be used in Bainbridge Island. The goal would be to create an alternative to the ferry route from Bainbridge Island to Seattle and to the ground traffic from Seattle to Redmond to support employees at Microsoft’s corporate headquarters.

About 53,000 employees travel each day over the waterways and roadways of Bainbridge Island. The daily commute from the island is about 25 miles and takes about 90 minutes by ferry. Using an air taxi, the same commute would only take about 10 minutes, Lyte said.

The SkyBus air taxi can take off from a traditional landing pad for helicopters or a vertiport — an aviation hub specifically built for air taxis and drones. The Microsoft campus has such a landing pad and all that would be needed is to build a vertiport on the island for the commute.

The SkyBus eVTOL is a heavyweight passenger mass transit aircraft. Lyte said the air taxi is five times more fuel efficient than a helicopter, 10 times less noise polluting than a helicopter and with fewer MRO costs.

Lyte is looking to enter the market with both the passenger version of the SkyBus along with a cargo equivalent in the next five to six years.

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