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Israeli startup designs electric-powered passenger jets to be “Uber in the sky”

Omer Bar-Yohay hopes to make airline travel as easy as hailing an Uber. Eviation Aircraft, an Israeli startup of which Bar-Yohay is chief executive, is developing a self-piloting, electric aircraft that passengers will be able to buy seats on via a simple smartphone app. Bar-Yohay described his company’s vision Tuesday as “Uber meeting Tesla in the sky” in a presentation at the WSJD Live Conference in Laguna Beach, Calif.

“I think it makes super-commuting not so super anymore; you just go. That is the vision,” he said.

Eviation’s airplane would operate out of small regional airports. Passengers could Uber to the airport and use their phones to request a flight as soon as they are at the terminal. There would be no standing in line at a ticket counter or logging onto the airline’s website weeks in advance to book a flight.

The ticket would also cost far less—maybe as little as “a bus ticket,” Bar-Yohay predicts. He said that since the airplane would not need fuel and would not need heavy fuel-burning engines, it would be far cheaper to operate.

Eviation started two years ago with some seed capital from private donors and the Israeli government. It has spent $10 million so far on the project and aims to raise another $10 million funds to complete it.

The company flew a small-scale prototype of its airplane at the Paris Air Show earlier this year. The company states that it is planning to debut a full-sized model capable of carrying passengers in 2019.

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