Airbus Urban Mobility
Airbus SE — Europe's largest aerospace company and currently the largest planemaker in the world — has business units in commercial aircraft, defense, helicopters and space. Its CityAirbus concept was initially started by Airbus Helicopters SAS, a multi-billion dollar subsidiary with headquarters is located in Marignane, France, that employees over 20,000 people worldwide. Airbus Helicopters did a feasibility study in 2015 that concluded that an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft could reach operating cost targets and safety requirements to be certified for public use. The project was moved to its Airbus Urban Mobility unit in 2018, taking advantage of company's resources in civil aircraft development and certification (Airbus Commercial Aircraft), vertical flight (Airbus Helicopters) and power systems (Airbus Defence & Space).
On September 21, 2021, Airbus announced its new CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL passenger aircraft for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). The aircraft holds four passengers, has a cruise speed of 120 km/h (75 mph) and a range of 80 km (50 miles). The aircraft has a very modern futuristic design, a design that Batman could be seen flying in, has a comfortable interior and the aircraft has large windows for a better passenger experience.
The aircraft has a total of eight propellers, eight electric motors and uses batteries for its power source. Each propeller has four propeller blades. There are two propellers located near the front ends of the wing, four propellers located on the trailing edge of the wing and two propellers in the rear, at the top of the V-shaped tail. A very important design feature which reduces complexity and increases safety, is the aircraft has no moving surfaces or tilting parts when transitioning from vertical to forward flight and the reverse.
The eVTOL aircraft has one main high-wing and has a V-shaped tail with a horizontal stabilizer near the top of the V. The aircraft's V-shaped tail has a pronounced upwards slope from the main fuselage, has hexagon skylights and the aircraft has four landing legs.
As battery technology is still in its infancy of holding enough electricity for sustained flight over very long distances, using a wing on eVTOL aircraft increases the range of the aircraft making it more effective for Urban Air Mobility. The fact that only electric motors, small propellers, batteries, avionics and carbon fiber fuselage material being used on these nascent aircraft, greatly reduces the weight and increases the range of aircraft and allows for an all battery power source.
Airbus has designed the CityAirbus NextGen aircraft to reduce complexity which increases safety exponentially, reduces manufacturing costs, reduces maintenance costs, reduces the cost of purchasing the aircraft and increases the service life of the aircraft. Reducing complexity also reduces weight which then in turn, increases the range of the aircraft.
A conventional aircraft with an engine, transmission, rotor blades (helicopters), gas tanks, fuel, oil, tail boom shafts (on helicopters) not only is very heavy but has many parts and many moving parts, any of which that fail could cause fatal accidents. With electric VTOL (or eVTOL) aircraft, there is one moving part in an electric motor and furthermore, electric motors are extremely reliable. This why aviation experts and professionals state that electric aircraft decrease the complexity and weight of the aircraft and greatly increase the safety of its passengers.
On September 21, 2021, the company stated, "The CityAirbus NextGen meets the highest certification standards (EASA SC-VTOL Enhanced Category). Airbus is benefitting from years of dedicated research, innovation, two electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) demonstrators, and development on sound technology across its portfolio of products, as well as decades of experience in certifying aircraft. Furthermore, Airbus has used extensive subscale flight testing and wind tunnel campaigns and has leveraged its computing and modelling power."
CityAirbus NextGen is in a detailed design phase right now and the prototype’s first flight is planned for 2023. The prototype will pave the way for certification and certification is expected around 2025.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger aircraft
- Piloting: Piloted initially and will become autonomous when regulations allow
- Capacity: 4 passengers
- Cruise speed: 120 km/h (75 mph)
- Range: 80 km (50 miles)
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Maximum payload: Unknown
- Propellers: 8 propellers (each propeller has four propeller blades)
- Electric Motors: 8 electric motors
- Power source: Batteries
- Sound: Sound levels are below 65 dB(A) during fly-over and below 70 dB(A) during landing
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Panoramic wrap around windows allowing forward, left, right and top visibility, for spectacular views
- Wing: 1 high wing
- Tail: V-shaped tail with a horizontal stabilizer near the top of the V
- Landing gear: 4 landing struts
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. The aircraft has no moving surfaces or tilting parts when transitioning from vertical to forward flight and the reverse which increases safety by reducing complexity.
- Airbus Helicopters website
- Airbus Innovations CityAirbus web page
- Airbus Helicopters Facebook
- Airbus Helicopters Twitter
- Airbus Helicopters YouTube Channel
- Airbus Helicopters Instagram
- Airbus Helicopters LinkedIn
- Article: Airbus Pursues Autonomous Air Taxi Research Project, Aviation Voice, Mar. 8, 2016
- Article: Airbus is working on a self-flying taxi, and the prototype could fly as early as 2018, Mashable, Oct. 5, 2017
- Article: Airbus revealed a new version of its CityAirbus flying EV built to fly quietly over urban areas, Business Insider, Sept. 21, 2021
- Article: Airbus reveals its next-generation CityAirbus eVTOL, eVTOL Magazine, Sept. 21, 2021
- Article: Airbus Unveils Latest Generation of CityAirbus eVTOL Aircraft, Flying Magazine, Sept. 21, 2021
- Video: CityAirbus NextGen, Airbus, Sept. 21, 2021