Cityairbus Nextgen By Airbus
With the help of a pair of technology demonstrators, two Airbus group entities are leading efforts to launch Airbus' entry into the eVTOL market.
The single-seat Vahana model was tested by A3 and the four-seat CityAirbus aircraft is being developed by Airbus Helicopters. According to Airbus, neither of these models will receive type certification for service entry in June 2019. Based on information gathered from the Vahana and CityAirbus demonstrator programs, the company began design work on what is expected to be a more fully defined eVTOL prototype in April 2019.
On November 14, the Vahana concluded flight testing after 13.41 hours and 138 flights since the program began in Pendleton, Oregon, on January 31, 2018. During the test campaign, the demonstrator aircraft flew a total of 560 miles (903 km), with the longest flight over 31 miles and the longest duration 19 minutes 56 seconds.
The last test flight of Vahana was performed on November 14, according to Zach Lovering, vice president of Airbus' urban air mobility systems. During the course of the flight test campaign, Lovering noted the fully electric, autonomous eVTOL aircraft covered 487 nm (903 km) total. A report from Airbus in May 2019 reported that the aircraft was flying horizontally after achieving full vertical transition. Up to its projected top speed of 115 mph, the aircraft flew at 12 different intermediate speeds during testing.
CityAirbus was flown for the first time on May 3, 2019, according to Airbus Helicopters. Flight test of the untethered and remotely piloted aircraft took place on December 21, 2019.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by Airbus Helicopters and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency on October 2, 2019. Among the work covered by the agreement is the European manufacturer's Racer demonstrator, the certification of new piloting assistance systems such as Airbus's EAGLE technology, and thermal/electric hybridization of rotorcraft (including new eVTOL designs).
With CityAirbus at its Donauworth facility in Germany, Airbus achieved the first automatic takeoff, flight stabilization, and landing on July 31, 2020. As part of the announcement, the company announced it would move the aircraft to Manching, near Munich, where the flight envelope will be expanded to include forward movement by the end of August.
The CityAirbus NextGen aircraft was announced in September 2021 during a sustainability summit at Airbus's headquarters in Toulouse. Featuring a V-shaped tail and eight sets of electric motors and propellers, the aircraft has a fixed-wing design. In 2023, a prototype of the CityAirbus NextGen model will be flown, en route to type certification in 2025, under the lead of an engineering team led by Airbus Helicopters. Flying at 120 km/h (75 mph) and 80 km/h (50 miles), the aircraft can carry four passengers.
As part of its CityAirbus NextGen program, Airbus partnered with various companies between November 2021 and May 2022. Thales and Diehl Aerospace signed a joint development agreement for CityAirbus NextGen flight control computers in November 2021. As part of a partnership with Airbus Helicopters, Spirit AeroSystems will manufacture and develop lighter and more aerodynamic wings for the CityAirbus NextGen. A CityAirbus NextGen electric motor contract was awarded to Magicall in May 2022.
Airbus made progress in implementing CityAirbus NextGen into cities in April and May 2022. ITA Airways and Airbus announced on April 27 that they will collaborate on urban air mobility in Italy. CityAirbus NextGen will be operated by local partners of companies under the agreement. A new air mobility initiative was launched by Airbus in the German city of Ingolstadt on May 4. German cities could be connected through eVTOL operations such as the CityAirbus with the help of local partners.
The rear structure of the CityAirbus NextGen will be produced by KLK Motorsport and Model- und Formenbau Blasius Gerg, two German companies selected by Airbus in June 2022. Airbus has worked with both companies in the past.
The CityAirbus NextGen will be tested in a dedicated test facility to be built by Airbus in July 2022. By 2023, the facility in southern Germany will be completed.