We get behind the controls of a Magni M16 gyroplane, chat with NASA engineers about the Mars Helicopter, look at Helinet’s firefighting Black Hawk & reflect on the legacy left by Universal Helicopters.
Singapore-based tech startup Ascent has launched its helicopter ride-sharing platform in the Philippines, in an effort to help people save time, live better, and boost productivity by making commuting more efficient in the traffic-congested capital and connecting major cities.
Founded last year by former aviation executive Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff and technology entrepreneur Darren Tng, Ascent started selling helicopter flights in the Philippines beginning April 8, 2019.
Passengers can now buy their seat at a fingertip and fly between busy locations in Manila such as the main gateway Ninoy Aquino International Airport; the Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Quezon City central business districts (CBDs); as well as focal regional destinations north and south of the capital such as Clark and Tagaytay.
The helicopter service is supported by the fleet of local air operator, INAEC Aviation Corporation (INAEC).
“Despite being one of the fastest growing business hubs in Southeast Asia, Manila’s traffic situation is also one of the most challenging in the region. With the launch of Ascent in the Philippines, we hope to provide a solution that is highly relevant to the current times’ economic and productivity pitfalls caused by congested roads,” said Sinai-Sinelnikoff.
Sinai-Sinelnikoff added that CBDs in Manila have an untapped transportation opportunity as there is a good number of helipads and helicopters with low utilization. Ascent aims to connect CBDs more easily and promote the country as an ideal destination to conduct business through urban air mobility.
Urban air mobility or UAM, more than just a rising buzz word, is a means of transport that spares commuters from the chokepoints met by vehicles traveling by land.
In providing access to a more seamless and cost-efficient travelling experience for commuters, Ascent also offers services such as luggage transport, on-ground guest assistance, airport transfers via helicopter, shuttle services to dedicated heliports, and enterprise solutions.
The firm is also preparing itself for expansion to more countries in the region, especially amid Southeast Asia’s notorious traffic, which has landed cities like Bangkok, Jakarta, and Manila, as among those with the worst congestion situations globally.
“We are going to expand our footprint soon in order to bring this traffic solution to more cities, with the intent of creating more impact and making a strong case on why helicopter flights can now be considered as [a] new, viable way to commute,” noted Sinai-Sinelnikoff.
As the company works on fresh investment and new partnerships, it also readies itself to capture relevant markets in the Philippines’ other two main islands, Visayas and Mindanao, as well as kick off operations in Singapore and Thailand.