Auckland not congested enough for Uber air trial - scientist

The NASA scientist behind the electric aircraft revolution has revealed Auckland was in the running to become a trial city for Uber's air taxis. 

Uber Elevate head of engineering Mark Moore grew up in New Zealand and scoped our largest city out. The problem - not enough congestion.

"I know you may think you have congestion there, you don't quite have the level of congestion of some other cities, you will probably get there," he told Newshub.

Moore says living here helped him spark what he believes is an aviation breakthrough as important as the Wright brothers.

"On windy days I would get my raincoat on and jump off the sand dunes and try to fly, knew that I loved flight," Moore says.

What he didn't love was the hills and narrow roads.

"If you could just take advantage of the third dimension and get above those hills and mountains it would be so much easier," he says.

So began a 32-year career at NASA, ending with a design of a safe electric power system for planes. Enter Uber and its plans for air taxis.

"They are not like helicopters, helicopters have one rotor and hundreds of parts that are flight critical, if any one of those parts fails, that helicopter is coming down," Moore says.

The difference is called redundancy. This new breed of vertical take off and landing craft are all designed so if any single part fails, the aircraft can still fly.

The race is on to be the first to market and Moore believes it's just a couple of years away.

"So we are at the cusp of a new Wright brothers era where you have hundreds of companies developing these new aircraft and it could not be a more exciting time," he says.

And his ties to New Zealand mean we are in the middle of it all.

Moore was the person who recommended that Google founder Larry Page's aviation company Kitty Hawk test its CORA electric plane in Christchurch.

If Auckland's congestion does get bad enough, Moore will be more than happy to fly in with a solution.