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19/03/2017 Airbus expands on CityAirbus urban taxi project - Section : Article

Airbus Helicopters president and CEO Guillaume Faury (X 1987 - S 1992 ) said the company was developing a demonstrator for the project, known as CityAirbus during a press conference at HAI Heli-Expo 2017 in Dallas, Texas.

Airbus has revealed further details of its plans to develop an “urban taxi” multirotor vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for short commuting trips in dense urban environments.  

“This is a very exciting one for us,” said Faury. “It’s propelled by electric motors and batteries, so no CO2 emissions [and] lower noise. It’s an aircraft which is designed for up to four people on board for short distances, but clearly well suited for being operated in cities downtown.”

In addition to low noise and zero emissions, Faury said CityAirbus would need to have high reliability and high safety.

“So, it’s a segment which is not far from helicopters, but different,” he said. “There are similarities with the light drones that we see popping up, but in terms of safety, in terms of regulations, in terms of certification, in terms of availability and reliability, we are really in the world of helicopters.

The manufacturer is developing technology for the demonstrator with its fixed-wing sister company in a joint lab. Faury said the project was benefitting from the legacy of the E-fan electric trainer airplane demonstrator developed and flown by Airbus Group in 2014.

Progression looks to be rapid, with Airbus targeting tests this year, and first flight by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

“It will fly first in unmanned, so it will be an accelerated flight test phase, then it will be a manned prototype that will then lead to certification and entry into service,” said Faury. “We are not in a hurry because we need regulation to evolve [and] we need stakeholders to be prepared. But we see the potential being very serious and we are already discussing with cities in some parts of the world which are willing to pioneer this kind of technologies and these kinds of solutions.”

He said these are the “innovative cities of this world,” and that Singapore was among them.

CityAirbus is one of three projects Airbus Group is working on, with the other two being Project Vahana, a self-flying air taxi concept revealed last year by Airbus Group’s Silicon Valley outpost A³; and the Skyways project to develop cargo delivery drones.

Verticalmag Posted on March 9, 2017 by Oliver Johnson

 

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