Testing of world-first self-piloted air taxi in Canterbury

Testing of a self-piloted air taxi is taking place in Canterbury, with the hope the flying service could soon take to the skies. 

ChristchurchNZ announced the project, which is being run by Zephyr Airworks, on Tuesday afternoon.

"We have been working closely with Zephyr Airworks and this partnership is a significant demonstration of our joint commitment to finding ways to improve future ways of living," ChristchurchNZ chief executive Joanna Norris says.

"Zephyr Airworks came here because of the ease of doing business in New Zealand, our safety-focused regulatory environment, our culture of ingenuity and our vision for clean technologies and future transport alternatives.

"Canterbury was the right location due to our physical environment.We have open skies and open spaces, in a beautiful, friendly location - and we encourage innovation.

"It's also because of our connectivity to the rest of the world, with our international air and seaports which collectively makes Christchurch and Canterbury attractive for trialling new technology."

Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel says the project is a perfect fit with the city's commitment to becoming carbon neutral. 

"This aircraft represents the evolution of the transport ecosystem to one that responds to a global challenge around traffic and congestion, and is kinder to the planet. 

"This is a fully electric aircraft that rises into the air like a helicopter, flies like a plane and then lands again like a helicopter."