Airbus to Fly Prototype eVTOL This Year

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The CityAirbus NextGen prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft made its public debut during an unveiling ceremony in Donauwörth, Germany on March 7, 2024.

The unveiling was the first time Airbus has presented a flight ready, fully assembled version of its all-electric prototype aircraft, which has been under development for several years. According to the Toulouse, France-based aircraft maker, the two-tonne class CityAirbus NextGen has a wing span of approximately 12 meters, and is being developed to fly with an 80 km range and a cruise speed of 120 km/h.

The unveiling coincided with the opening of the new CityAirbus test center in Donauwörth, which will be dedicated to testing systems for eVTOLs. The center, which is part of Airbus’ ongoing and long-term investment in Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), began its operations with the CityAirbus NextGen’s power-on in December 2023 and it will be now used for the remaining tests required before the prototype’s maiden flight later in the year. These tests cover the electric motors with their eight rotors as well as the aircraft’s other systems such as flight controls and avionics.

At the same time, Airbus is expanding its global network and partnerships to create a unique ecosystem for the future of the AAM market. Airbus recently signed a partnership agreement with LCI, a leading aviation company, to focus on the development of partnership scenarios and business models in three core AAM areas: strategy, commercialization and financing.

Airbus first launched its vision for the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL in September 2021, several years after the company developed its Vahana eVTOL demonstrator aircraft. CityAirbus NextGen has a V-shaped tail and is powered by a distributed propulsion system that has eight electrical-powered propellers and fixed wings. The four-seater eVTOL is designed to be piloted in its initial configuration, and is also equipped with an optional automated flight mode.

Since launching the concept three years ago, Airbus has signed partnerships with several major industry players as suppliers for various CityAirbus NextGen components. In 2022 for example, Spirit Aerosystems signed a deal to supply the wings for CityAirbus NextGen, while California-based MagicALL became the aircraft’s electric motor supplier. In June 2023, Airbus confirmed STMicroelectronics as its supplier of power electronics for the aircraft.

“Rolling out CityAirbus NextGen for the very first time is an important and very real step that we are taking towards advanced air mobility and our future product and market. Thank you to our community, team and partners all over the world for helping us make this a reality,” said Balkiz Sarihan, Head of Urban Air Mobility at Airbus.

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