The man behind the only electric plane cleared to fly quickly discovered the challenges of converting world-leading technology into profits in a hotly contested, futuristic segment of aviation.
Ivo Boscarol, owner of e-plane pioneer Pipistrel, saw a three-year partnership to develop a flying taxi with Uber Technologies Inc. dwindle in 2020, after the ride-hailing giant reined in its aviation ambitions. He’s since pivoted to building drones to carry heavy freight to remote areas of China.
Boscarol says this approach is less daunting from a technical, safety and regulatory standpoint than shuttling live passengers across dense cities in electric vertical takeoff-and-landing craft. “We’re using the structure and propulsion concept of the urban taxi to enter a cargo market that has fewer restrictions,” Boscarol said in an interview. “It’s an opportunity to capitalize on our development.” Boscarol’s Slovenia-based company, which began as a hang-glider maker in 1989, managed a feat that hasn’t been accomplished with any other fully electric aircraft.