Flying taxis and drone deliveries could be a reality in the UK by 2030

The government and industry’s joint Future of Flight action plan claims flying taxis, crime-fighting drones and critical 999 care deliveries could all become a reality in the next decade.


Announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) on March 18, 2024, the plan details how this technology could transform UK skies, with studies estimating drone technology could boost the UK economy by £45bn by 2030.

The Future of Flight action plan includes the first piloted flying taxi flight to happen by 2026 and regular services by 2028, plus regular drone deliveries across UK skies by 2027 and demos of autonomous flying taxis without pilots on board by 2030.

First imagined in the Flightpath to the Future in 2022, the DfT said that this joint plan with industry experts and leaders sets out the strategic direction of the sector over the next five years, striking a balance between innovation, security, safety and cutting emissions.

The plan also includes allowing drones to fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) so that the sector can grow without limiting the skies for other aircraft, developing smaller aerodromes by setting out how they can operate as vertiports for electric aircraft that take off vertically, and creating standards to improve security for drones to boost public safety.

In a statement, aviation and technology minister, Anthony Browne, said:  “Cutting-edge battery technology will revolutionise transport as we know it – this plan will make sure we have the infrastructure and regulation in place to make it a reality.

“From flying taxis to emergency service drones, we’re making sure the UK is at the forefront of this dramatic shift in transportation – improving people’s lives and boosting the economy.”

The DfT said that the benefits of this new technology are already being seen in the UK, as West Midlands Police have used drones to tackle violent crime and antisocial behaviour. In July 2023, a drone team was deployed, successfully identifying two offenders and another suspect at a speed and distance that would have taken ground officers ‘hours to track down’.

Drones are also helping frontline NHS staff save lives, as for six months between October 2022 and March 2023, the UK drone service provider Skyfarer partnered with University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust and Medical Logistics UK to test drones to deliver surgical implants and pathology samples between sites.

In one case, drones reliably helped cut delivery times of surgical implants between Coventry and Rugby hospitals from up to an hour to 18 minutes – a 70 per cent decrease.

Duncan Walker, chief executive of Skyports and chairman of the Future of Flight Industry Group, said: “The UK is home to one of the world’s most important aerospace industries and is in an ideal position to be a pioneer in the next era of aviation.

“The government and industry have a joint commitment to support the development, industrialisation and introduction of new aviation technologies. Continued collaboration will ensure that we capitalise on the significant domestic and international market opportunities presented by the future of flight.”

The Future of Flight action plan comes ahead of the fifth meeting of the Future of Flight Industry Group, a joint force established in February 2023 for government and industry leaders like the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to ‘tackle the biggest challenges facing the sector’ and ‘set ambitious goals as emerging aviation technologies become more commonplace’.