Capital Skies hopes to provide relief for commuters stuck in traffic

Photo: CC-Perry Hiemer

Are you tired of waiting in massive traffic jams caused by Ottawa’s never ending construction? A new company called Capital Skies is trying to make those waits a thing of the past.

For a modest fee of $90, the company will pick you up in one of its fleet of helicopters and fly you to anywhere in the city you need to go, or at least to the closest place a helicopter can safely land. With so much construction on the University of Ottawa campus, the service is even being used by students to get from one class to another.

Capital Skies was founded by U of O grad Dennis Collins who graduated from the Telfer School of Management in 2014. “We believe there is a huge demand for not being stuck in traffic. If you can pay then why should you have to wait?”

The company operates on a model similar to Uber, where potential passengers simply have to download an app and then make a request for any nearby helicopter pilots to come by. “That’s been the most surprising thing actually, the amount of support from the helicoptering community in Ottawa for this idea, and the number of pilots that are interested in doing this on a daily basis,” said Collins.

The lack of available heliports in the City are a challenge for the company, with the only one downtown being exclusively for the Prime Minister’s use. “We began with just doing light hovers so that passengers could jump out when we were near their destination. Now though we’ve begun setting down on any nearby park on flat rooftop,” said Collins.

“I was quite nervous of how the City’s government would react to these helicopters setting down all over downtown, they’re used to seeing the sky full of them but not seeing passengers jump out of them.”

It’s only a matter of time now until the registered helicopter companies get involved and demand a boycott on this latest form of taxi service. The debate and struggle between unregistered and registered helicopter services could prove to be the next arena in the ongoing struggle between Uber and taxi companies.

One helicopter pilot Marcellus LaCroix had this to say, “I don’t want to have to share the skies with unregistered companies. Registered pilots have to spend a massive investment to get started in this business, unregistered pilots only have to buy all the training hours needed to get a pilots license and a helicopter before they’re ready to go.”

Passengers of the new service claim that it’s the greatest transit revolution we’ve ever seen. “It’s cheaper than a taxi if you get stuck in those traffic jams, plus you get a great view with it while you ride, I don’t think I’ll ever go back to driving,” said Greg Adams, an avid Capital Skies user.

With  Rideau Street being under construction for the next three years due to the LRT, and the U of O campus striving to meet the goals of the vision 2020 project, there will be high demand for getting around traffic jams.