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ICAO Innovation Fair 2019 Highlights

Over 22-23 September, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) hosted its very first ICAO Innovation Fair 2019. An event to commemorate ICAO’s 75th anniversary, the fair was held in Montréal and featured a range of fascinating technologies to show the future of aviation.

ICAO Council President Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, in opening the ceremony, said that aviation has survived because of the “ability to adapt to new technologies and to new expectations from global societies”.

The aviation technology displayed at ICAO’s fair proved him right. The fair was a buzzing ground for new entrants and old aviation players. Over 50 businesses showed off new urban mobility and ideas for new types of aircraft.

It was also a place where business got done, including CAAS and Thales signing an agreement to establish a $30 million Joint Aviation Innovation Research Lab in Singapore to create new air traffic management technologies.

There was also a fascinating drone light show, where hundreds of drones presented a celebration of ICAO’s 75th birthday.

A range of different nifty technologies and ideas were on display, and we observe some of these below.

Ehang 216 Flying Taxi – aviation technology without a pilot

Chinese company Ehang displayed its 216 Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) (i.e. a flying taxi) right outside ICAO’s Headquarters.

This magnificent new piece of technology is a two-seater taxi featuring 16 propellers. The aim is for the aircraft to fly without a pilot inside, and is instead to be monitored by a separate command and control centre.

First announced in February 2018, the taxi was created with a vision to “establish a human-focused, sustainable way for people to get about in the future”. The aim is to “create shortcuts – so transport is no longer restricted by roads”.

The next steps for the aircraft are for it to be tested in further places around the world (testing has already been done in China, Amsterdam and Qatar) before building the aircraft in large quantities.

To see the Flying Taxi work in practice, check out this video of the AAV taking off in Vienna.

Uber Elevate’s virtual reality experience – The Uber Air Taxi

The Uber Air Taxi made its introduction in the ICAO Innovation Fair 2019 as Uber Elevate showed what it could do through virtual reality.

Visitors could place on virtual reality goggles and experience what it would be like to fly in one of Uber Elevate’s new air taxi services.

The idea is that you’d be able to get to where you need to go and avoid heavy traffic congestion. You could travel across the city in an Uber Air Taxi, and then use a regular Uber to complete the final leg of your destination.

Check out Uber Elevate’s vision for its taxis in this neat video.

Bell Textron’s Hydra – the newest kind of drone

Another way of transforming travel through the air on display at the ICAO Innovation Fair 2019 was Bell Textron’s Hydra 1 Drone.

Once again, it’s about transforming a 45-minute drive into a 10-minute flight through vertical take off and landing (VTOL).

Bell Textron say that Hydra isn’t built for a certain mission, but to test new propulsion technologies. The aim is to gather as much information as possible in order to develop new ways of commuting across the skies.

Check out a Hydra 1 Drone test flight in this nifty video.