Self-driving cars are so passé.
Who needs roads at all? The real future is in flying taxis. At least that's the message being sent out by major aerospace and ride sharing firms right now. Earlier this year, Uber announced its plans to launch an uberAIR commercial flight service, an operation that will bring autonomous on-demand electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft to users seeking faster travel times.
The key premise of uberAIR is that small aircraft can take riders above the congestion of urban centers. Dallas and Los Angeles are the two cities that have signed on to be testbeds for the program. Of course, Uber will still need to prove to the FAA that its new airborne transit plans will work, which is the final regulatory authority for the national airspace system.
The FAA's ongoing NextGen program of modernizing the U.S. airspace system could be the shift that makes integrating uberAIR and competing air taxi services actually happen in the years ahead.
(The FAA is currently about halfway through its NextGen rollout.)
Meanwhile, big money is pouring into developing air taxi services. Obviously, Uber isn't publicly traded - at least not yet. But that doesn't mean retail investors are completely locked out of the flying taxi space. Here's a technical look at three big stocks that have exposure to the trend:
Up first is Boeing Co. (BA) - Get Report . Not only is Boeing one of the biggest names in the aerospace industry, it's also Uber's partner for the uberAIR initiative. Boeing owns Aurora Flight Sciences, the company developing the platform that Uber's air taxi will be based on.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg thinks that air taxis could be ferrying passengers around city skylines, and skipping highway gridlock within the next decade. Watch what he just told TheStreet here.
While Boeing's current exposure to flying taxis is small, the addressable market is huge -- that's why the program is capturing the firm's attention (and dollars). Meanwhile, from a technical standpoint, it's been hard to miss the solid uptrend that's been propelling shares of Boeing higher for the last two years now. Boeing is most definitely a "buy the dips stock" this summer.
And its relative strength uptrend is a signal that shares are continuing to outperform the rest of the broad market even now.
Forget about the future of flying taxis for a second -- how about the present?
Current services operating under the FAA Part 135 certificates provide air taxi services in conventional small planes (with pilots). The combination of recent advances in electric aircraft certification lowering the costs of those types of flights, plus a model that already works within the airspace system could make them more common.
In that scenario, Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) - Get Report could benefit. Garmin is one of the biggest manufacturers of avionics systems for light aircraft. Its products are standard equipment on nearly every newly manufactured aircraft that sells for under $5 million today. More electric planes taking flight could translate into much higher revenues at Garmin.
Shares of Garmin are currently consolidating sideways following a parabolic move higher at the end of 2017. Because of that prior uptrend heading into the consolidation, Garmin is more likely to exit its consolidation range to the upside. Resistance levels at $62 and $64 are the barriers Garmin needs to cross to signal that buyers are back in control.
While Amazon isn't working on flying taxis, it has long been working on using autonomous drones to deliver packages to customers. That means that the firm could benefit from the exact same economics that Uber is chasing with its uberAIR program.
Amazon just crossed into breakout territory at the start of the week. Shares had been forming a bullish continuation pattern called an ascending triangle pattern for much of 2018, and that pattern finally triggered a buy with its push through $1,600 resistance. Despite hitting new highs here, now actually looks like a good opportunity to be an Amazon buyer. Support at $1,450 is a logical place to park a protective stop if you decide to buy this breakout.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author was long GRMN.