News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Plans for flying taxis take off in Fort Worth and Arlington

A rendering of Overair’s “Butterfly” aircraft. Overair is partnering with DFW Airport and the city of Arlington to plan infrastructure needed for flying taxis. Overair plans to certify its aircraft by early 2028.
Courtesy image
A rendering of Overair’s “Butterfly” aircraft. Overair is partnering with DFW Airport and the city of Arlington to plan infrastructure needed for flying taxis. Overair plans to certify its aircraft by early 2028.

Alicia Winkelblech, Arlington’s director of transportation, is preparing for a new type of aircraft to fly over the city. The aircraft takes off like a helicopter, but uses entirely electric power instead of a combustion engine.

The fancy term for the new aircraft is electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle — or the acronym “eVTOL.” Some simply call them air taxis.

Officials such as Winkelblech are already planning for when the technology becomes a reality.

“I think we all knew that air taxis and that type of travel was coming in the future,” Winkelblech said. “I think it was just a question of when.”

Air taxis are estimated to grow to a $23.4 billion market by 2030. While the Federal Aviation Administration is still crafting rules regulating the vehicles, the city of Arlington and the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport formed a partnership with aircraft manufacturer Overairto work out infrastructure needs.

Overair is developing an aircraft called “Butterfly,” which is being designed to fit five passengers plus a pilot and luggage, traveling at speeds up to 200 miles per hour and flying for 100 miles. The aircraft will have four, large tilt-rotors, 20 feet in diameter, which can enable the aircraft to spin blades slowly, John Criezis, Overair’s head of mobility operations, said. The slow blade spinning is important to the design because the aircraft will be quieter, he said.

“You can imagine a future where these are landing closer to where people live or closer to where they work, and it’s going to be really important that these are much, much, much quieter than helicopters today,” Criezis said. “Otherwise, people would not like having those in their neighborhoods.”

Criezis expects the vehicle will be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration by late 2027 or early 2028.

Winkelblech said partnering with Overair fits into the city’s mission to be at the forefront of mobility and transportation innovation. The city has also been testing out self-driving cars and drone deliveries.

The city entered into a memorandum of understanding to use the company’s expertise in planning for and developing a vertiport — a takeoff and landing platform that supports the new type of aircraft — at the Arlington Municipal Airport. The city is also using an engineering firm to explore the scope and needs of the project. That could mean looking at the number of charging stations, landing and takeoff pads, and identifying if there’s a need for parking or maintenance sites.

One of the biggest challenges is that right now there are a lot more questions about the industry than there are answers. The Federal Aviation Administration is still working on crafting regulations for the new aircrafts. The administration proposed rules on training pilots in June 2023. Additionally, the FAAreleased a plan outlining the steps needed to make the flying taxis a reality by 2028.

The administration expects the vehicles will use existing helipads, routes and air traffic control services where possible, stating initial operations will be similar to helicopters. It also released vertiport design standards in September 2022, along with a blueprint for operationsin urban areas. Winkelblech said building flexibility into their plans is key. The city’s goal is to have a functional vertiport by the FIFA World Cup in 2026 that operators of the aircraft could use.

“We may not have the ultimate vertiport that we envision built on day one,” she said. “We may have something functional that we add to as we learn a little bit more about: What is the demand? What are the use patterns? Who are the users?”

Roger Venables, city of Fort Worth aviation director, said he’s thought a lot about new innovations in the aviation industry such as air taxis and where the new aircrafts would go in Fort Worth’s two municipal airports, Meacham International Airport and Spinks Airport.

He knows the new technology won’t show up overnight and anticipates not seeing any FAA-certified aircraft until about 2025. But the city has identified places the vehicles could land and charge in Meacham’s and Spinks’ master plan.

“This is really going to be transformative,” Venables said. “I think, maybe 15-20 years … it will just be another mode of transportation airports will accommodate.”

Other airports in the area say it’s simply too early to plan for the vehicles.

The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport declined an interview about its partnership with Overair and said it’s too soon to provide details. But Sean Donohue, the airport’s CEO, did say during last year’s state of the airport address he imagines a “fully automated”passenger experience of the airport by 2040, one that includes electric takeoff and landing vehicles.

Chris Ash, senior vice president of aviation business development at Alliance Airport, said there will be some level of real estate development that supports air taxis and air cargo operations as the industry matures. What that will look like is too soon to say, he said, because they don’t know enough about the industry yet. While conversations are happening internally about preparing the airport with the infrastructure and surrounding community to accept the technology, it’s still too early to make an actual plan.

“It’s undeniable that the industry is coming,” Ash said. “The ‘when’ and the ‘how’ are still a little undefined.”

Other airports across the country and airlines are paying attention to the new aircrafts, too. Tampa International Airport announced the first successful test flight of an eVTOL aircraft from German company Volocopter in Florida last November. United Airlines announced last March its first air taxi route between O’Hare International Airport and Vertiport Chicago by 2025, partnering with aircraft developer Archer Aviation Inc.

Officials such as Winkelblech in Arlington said bringing air taxis to the city will be taken in small steps, as with other innovative technologies it adopts, and take public feedback along the way. But when the time comes, and the air taxis are ready, she said, she would gladly take a test ride.

Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at and follow on X, formerly known as Twitter,@sbodine120

At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policyhere.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.