- Airbus has revealed a next-generation CityAirbus electric plane, a “flying taxi” built for urban areas.
- CityAirbus is in the design phase but is being developed to fly a range of 80 km at 120 km/hour.
- Noise reduction is a key feature of the plane, which is expected to operate at lower than 70 dBa.
Airbus has revealed the latest edition of CityAirbus, the company’s zero-emission electric vehicle built to fly in noise-sensitive urban areas on Tuesday.
The next generation of the electric aircraft is part of Airbus’s vision for an intra-city “flying taxi” service. The zero-emission eVTOL plane was revealed at the company’s first Airbus Summit on “Pioneering Sustainable Aerospace,” which focuses on concepts that enhance the urban air mobility market.
The eVTOL can carry four passengers, be remotely piloted, and fly up to 80 km (50 miles) at a speed of 120 km/hour (74.5 mi/hour), according to Airbus. The body of the aircraft features a V-shaped tail and fixed wings, and its unique propulsion system consists of eight electrically powered propellers. Noise reduction is a key feature of the plane, which features sound levels less than 65 dBa during fly-overs and below 70 dBa during landing.
“We are on a quest to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility into the cities while addressing environmental and social concerns. Airbus is convinced that the real challenges are as much about urban integration, public acceptance, and automated air traffic management, as about vehicle technology and business models. We build on all of the capabilities to deliver a safe, sustainable, and fully integrated service to society,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even.
The aircraft is being developed in Airbus’ Helicopter division and is an upgraded version of the company’s original CityAirbus that debuted in July 2020. The first generation CityAirbus began development in 2016 and was envisioned as a taxi service that could bypass city traffic by simply flying above it, according to Airbus. Historically, this kind of intra-city transportation was conducted by noisy helicopters, like now-defunct Airbus-backed helicopter taxi startup Voom, Airbus’ “electric flying car” Vahana, or Uber Copter.
CityAirbus NextGen “combines the best of both worlds” by taking successful concepts from the original CityAirbus and Vahana, including hover and forward flight, according to Airbus. The two vehicles have collectively demonstrated 242 test flights covering over 1,000 kilometers (621 miles), which has helped Airbus optimize its new electric plane, which does not require any moving surfaces or tilting parts during transition, improving its hover and cruise efficiency.
CityAirbus is in the design stage of development and the prototype’s first flight is planned for 2023 with certification expected for 2025.