Monday, February 29, 2016

Uber and Airbus Partner Up

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Uber and Airbus would partner to form a joint venture providing on-the-spot helicopter transportation through the Uber system. This new partnership debuted during the recent Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and brings together a slumping Airbus helicopter industry with the wildly successful Uber automobile transport system. Neither Airbus nor Uber would predict what the cost might be for immediate helicopter transportation, but one can imagine that the cost will be significant.

According to CNBC: “As part of a new Silicon Valley-based initiative, Airbus has established a partnership with Uber was part of an experiment that would allow Uber users to hail copters, as well as other forms of transportation. The recently-formed Airbus Ventures will operate with $150 million commitment to 'identify and invest in the most visionary entrepreneurs in the global aerospace ecosystem,' Airbus said in a release. The new link with Uber will allow Airbus to provide on-demand transportation service using its H125 and H130 helicopters. According to Airbus, the partnership will help carve out ‘a new business model for helicopter operators to access a broader customer base.’”

hat tip:  Noah Moore, Indiana Tech Law School, 2L


  1. This concept just seems crazy to me. Most likely I find the idea of using a helicopter as transportation to be outlandish because I rarely travel, and if I do travel, it is not very far. However, I can understand there is likely an interest from certain groups. I guess we’ve all been waiting for flying cars… maybe a helicopter is practically speaking a flying car. It seems to be a fitting partnership. Uber is a transportation company and Airbus has access to helicopters. Airbus will provide the transportation, and Uber will provide the access to customers. Maybe this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.


  2. An interesting situation as always will be liability. As with the current partnerships with Uber and all of it's drivers, the liability coverage is probably a traditional amount that insurance carriers are accustomed to.
    In the corporate helicopter situation, the helicopter is used for business purposes and hence covered by business insurance with a rider (helicopter coverage).
    In the private helicopter sector, the private person has insurance coverage for their private use as well as covering up to a limit for passengers or aggregate amount in the case of an accident.
    In the Uber & Airbus partnership, a special relationship will have to exist. It would appear that someone will need to take the liability and definitely define the liability parameters in the corporate agreement.
    What happens when there is any type of negligent act, malice or wreckless act? Will the insurance industry be able to keep up with the potential liabilities, or will the person who is injured be required to mitigate the liability in a court. Of course, this will cost money and time. I can only imagine the corporate structure set up in this instance to deflect liability, but at the same time power struggle for the profits!

  3. This is a very interesting partnership, and I cannot wait to see the success rate. It is not surprising that uber is so successful especially because people use this transportation to go home after they have been drinking. However, it is hard to see why people will need helicopters as a means of fast transportation. People usually only fly if they had made plans for where they are going, such as arranged hotel stay. Maybe people will be able to make more spontaneous trips with this on-demand partnership, but it will depend how how affordable the trips will be. I am also interested to see who will be the pilots because almost anyone can be an uber driver, but not everyone can be a pilot.

  4. As a fixed wing pilot I can tell you cost of operating and maintaining aircraft is staggering. Pursuant to FAA regs a private pilot can not be paid for flying for any reason. Thus the pilot must be a Commercial pilot. Even more expense. With a commercial pilot and commercial grade maintenance cost could be $1000 per hour.. Don' t see this as a successful business model.