Japan Airlines has joined Japanese companies Mitsubishi Estate and Kanematsu Corporation in an urban air mobility project for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. 

The project will span the current financial year, which began on 1 April, to fiscal 2024, which ends in March 2025. 

The consortium aims to “explore a variety of business models based on advanced air mobility in the metropolitan area”, a joint statement says. These include transportation services connecting Tokyo’s major transport hubs, airport access, as well as scenic flights to outlying islands. 

For the rest of the year through March 2023, the three companies will work to “identify issues and solutions associated with the implementation of advanced air mobility”. The group will also work out estimated sales and costs of potential services, as well as review target market size in Tokyo. 

JAL uam trial

Source: Japan Airlines

Between April 2023 and March 2024, the consortium hopes to launch demonstration flights with helicopters within the metropolitan area. 

During the year, it will also build two heliports in facilities managed or owned by Mitsubishi Estate, kickstarting a feasibility study for the use of electric take off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in scenic flights. 

In the 2024 financial year, the consortium will expand the number of heliports and launch demonstration flights with eVTOLs. 

JAL says its primary role in the project is in feasibility studies of urban air mobility services, as well as planning for demonstration flights. Mitsubishi Estate will be the primary project manager, and provide locations for test flights. As for Kanematsu, it will provide information on overseas technologies, as well as regulatory trends. It will also be responsible for vertiport development. 

“[Advanced air mobility] is expected to help solve a range of social issues by eliminating urban congestion, providing means of transport in regions with underdeveloped transportation infrastructure, using in times of disaster, and also creating new value through reducing travel time and providing private, luxurious mobility experiences,” the three companies state. 

Japan hopes to roll out commercial UAM services in its major cities from 2025. JAL has been actively involved in the urban air mobility, and is a customer for Vertical Aerospace’s in-development VA-X4 air taxi, holding commitments of up to 100 examples.