By Rebecca Rooy

It’s time to embrace the third dimension. Convenient sky travel has always been tantalizing. Dreams of whirling hovercrafts have lingered in our minds for decades: on-demand, point-to-point air travel specifically designed for one’s personal travel plans. It is now becoming a reality: an increasingly affordable, convenient, and high-speed way to travel for short-term trips.

Introducing . . . air taxis.

The United States has grown frighteningly comfortable on a teetering foothold in our use of transportation. We are on the verge: it’s either travel breakdown or travel revitalization. Our national airports are oversaturated with people and complicated flight regulations. The roads are breaking down due to the amount of commuter traffic and truck travel. We are frustrated by traffic gridlocks, airport customs gridlocks, and railway gridlocks, which leads to our sanity gridlocking as well. In short, our transportation demand has exhausted our transportation supply.

Due to NASA’s access and provisions of emerging technology, this Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) program materialized. With the turning point in transportation looming, NASA created the SATS program since the United States is in the ideal innovative position to launch this program in air transportation. The ultimate goal is to fully incorporate SATS into the mass transportation system. This new method of transportation will not only affect our traveling needs, but product delivery and service options as well. These new services hold promise for many industries. For example, there is the possibility of great economic benefit to the corporate realm because SATS provides increased access to rural or remote areas. The program developed 5,000 landing sites for public use throughout the country, to include areas in both the urban and rural communities.

NASA’s research has also led to the creation of the “very light jet” (VLJ), specifically designed for the SATS program. VLJs are designed to create safe, fast, and reliable travel, providing four to six seats on each plane. These new aircrafts are ideal for a ready-by-call taxi service. The technologies within each aircraft are custom created to make them compatible with small airports. Although the technology is cutting edge, these planes are being produced at increasingly lower costs in order to make the air taxi affordability a reality.

Although NASA began the program, it has now been handed off to individual organizations around the country. Unfortunately, the transfer of responsibility did not fully include the transfer of funding. NASA’s role in the program has ended, and many of these new SATS organizations are struggling to meet funding needs. At this point, funding for the SATS program is the biggest obstacle to overcome.

Throughout our transportation history, we have embraced the natural progress of innovation. The SATS program is an example of continuing our inventive and progressive history. Our current two-dimensional transportation infrastructures are over-extended and exhausted, and, therefore, it is not only logical, but natural, to turn to third-dimensional transportation. Get ready to hail the newest taxi.

NASA. <>.

“New Class of Jets will Fly High with Help of NASA Research.” PR Newswire US . Lexis Nexis. 13 October 2006.