CEO Plans Airbus Aims for Self-flying Car Takeoff in 2017

The aircraft manufacturer Airbus intends to test autonomous airborne taxis by the end of this year.
Concept art for an autonomous flying car.

Airbus plans to test a prototype for an autonomous flying car by the end of the year, Chief Executive Tom Enders told the DLD digital tech conference in Munich on Monday.

"One hundred years ago, urban transport went underground, now we have the technological wherewithal to go above ground," Mr. Enders said.

He explained that the number of accidents in aviation was steadily sinking and flying was very safe today. "90 percent of the errors in aviation accidents are due to human error," Mr. Enders said, adding that technically, autonomous flying would be easier to implement than autonomous driving - even if developments in that sector are likely to progress faster.

However, people needed to be shown that flying without pilots is even safer, stressed Mr. Enders. He added jokingly that the acceptance of automated aircraft in Germany could also rise due to the frequent pilot strikes in the country.