I was emailed a study by the University of Michigan's Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle this week called, "A Survey of Public Opinion About Flying Cars." It was published in 2017, but I still found it relevant. Not only did it get me thinking about public perception about flying cars, but it also got me thinking about public perception of helicopters and helicopter operations.
In light of the Papillon Airways EC-130 fatal crash — which made headlines seemingly everywhere, including CNN — as well as perpetual noise complaints and other things, I'm wondering how the helicopter industry is working to win over the general public. Are there things the industry could be doing better? What do you think the industry is doing right? Obviously, this is something the industry has been working on for decades and decades. But what's the current status?
And don't you think conquering public opinion in the helicopter industry should come before trying to conquer it in the air taxi industry that doesn't really exist yet?
The University of Michigan survey received responses from 508 adult U.S. residents. Here are some of the findings that I found interesting:
- General opinions about flying cars were very positive for about one-sixth of respondents
- Younger respondents tended to have more positive opinions about flying cars than older respondents
- About 60% of respondents were "very concerned" about the overall safety of flying cars
- 30% of respondents had "somewhat negative" or "very negative" opinions about flying cars
- Respondents preferred fully autonomous air taxis over manned air taxis — even if the pilot had the appropriate licensing
- About 50% of respondents said they would be interested in getting licensed to fly a flying car
- About 80% of respondents thought it was either "extremely important" or "very important" for the flying car to have a parachute (not the individual occupants)
- 83.1% of survey respondents would prefer a flying car to be a VTOL aircraft, while 16.9% would prefer a traditional airliner.
Perhaps flying cars will face different obstacles than helicopters do when it comes to public acceptance. If air taxis do become affordable and readily accessible, convenience could outweigh any risks people may be concerned about.
Although I do like talking, my main goal here is to start a discussion. I want to read whatever thoughts you have on this subject. Please leave a comment here, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — wherever. Let's have a discussion.