Republican Rep. Jason Fischer wants transportation leaders to start thinking about the future.
In the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session, the Mandarin Republican is pitching a bill that aims to ready the state for an emerging means of transportation: electric air travel.
The bill (HB 1005) would create Florida’s first Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Task Force, a collective of local and state leaders tasked with exploring the possibility of air travel using vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
eVTOL aircraft — which uses electric power to hover, take off and land vertically — would capitalize on underutilized flight paths in Florida.
In a news release, Fischer listed the many upsides of AAM, including reducing roadway congestion and promoting job growth, economic development, and connectivity.
“With this legislation, Florida sets an example of how to encourage emerging technologies and serve as a partner in their implementation, rather than a hindrance,” Fischer said. “Too often government gets in the way of emerging technologies, but Advanced Air Mobility provides an opportunity to embrace the future and dramatically improve the lives of Floridians.”
Notably, companies already view Florida as prime real estate for eVTOL technology. One company, Lilium, wants to build a network of vertiports across Central and South Florida, including locations in Tampa and Orlando.
The company, in June, credited a slew of local leaders and their openness to emerging technology as among the reasons why they selected the Sunshine State. They also noted the high rate of population growth in Florida. More than 1,500 people move into Central Florida a week, News 6 of Orlando reports.
“For us, it’s about the three fundamental D’s around Orlando — Data, Demings and Dyer,” said Lilium’s Caryn Lund of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.
Among other responsibilities, the task force would review pertinent laws and regulations already on the books. The collective would also engage with local communities and stakeholders.
The hope, Fischer said, is that Florida will establish itself as an attractive state for transportation investments that will benefit its residents.
“HB 1005 is innovative not only because of the technology it seeks to enable, but because it creates a collaborative mechanism for engagement between industry, government, and community, which is often overlooked when scaling a new industry,” Fischer said.
The potential for companies such as Lilium and others is great. Most Florida residents will live within 30 minutes of the 10 flying-taxi hubs the Germany-based company plans to create. And with costs as low as $70, the current seven-seater model can transport Floridians at speeds around 175 mph to distances upward of 155 miles.
“By saving time and enhancing connectivity, the service will drive significant economic growth for cities and increase access to industry, culture, and nature,” reads a Lilium news release.
Lawmakers will take up the proposal in the upcoming 2022 Legislative Session starting on Jan. 11.
In early December, the bill’s Senate companion (SB 728) sailed through the Senate Transportation Committee. Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell is the Senate sponsor.