A³ Vahana eVTOL Tiltwing

Advanced VTOL Demonstrators Accelerate Full Tilt

Vertiflite, March/April 2018

Vahana, the all-electric VTOL aircraft from A³ by Airbus, made its first full-scale flight on Jan. 31, 2018, at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon. The first untethered flight of the unmanned, fully self-piloted electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) demonstrator was a 53-second hover at 16 ft (5 m). A³ completed a second flight of the first demonstrator, dubbed “Alpha One,” the following day with representatives from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” said Zach Lovering, Project Executive of Vahana. “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.”

The A³ by Airbus all-electric VTOL Vahana took flight on Jan. 31. (Airbus photo)

The Vahana team plans to continue development and perform further flight tests to transition and forward flight. Lovering also announced that A³ has “identified a new partner for our motors, MAGicALL. The California-based company designs and manufactures custom, cutting-edge components (motors, generators, inductors, transformers, etc.) with impressive performance on rapid and affordable delivery schedules.”

Founded in May 2015, A³ (“A-cubed”) is the Silicon Valley-based advanced projects outpost of Airbus. A³ focuses on projects centered around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productizable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale.

A³ enables access to unique talent and ideas, new partnership opportunities, and execution at speed. Vahana aims to democratize personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage and machine vision. It has tilting fore and aft wings, each with four electrically-driven three-bladed propellers.

 

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