Airbus Takes The Next Step Toward eVTOL Progress


It’s all too easy to turn a jaundiced view toward any new announcement that touts big progress in eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) development. But when aerospace titan Airbus speaks, it’s hard to turn a completely deaf ear.

As part of its “Pioneering Sustainable Aerospace” summit earlier this week, Airbus announced plans for its CityAirbus NextGen urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft. The fully electric, four-seat, V-tail fixed-wing aircraft is configured with eight motors optimizing the “distributed propulsion” advantage. Perhaps most to its credit, the new program combines data and experience from Airbus’s 242 flight and ground tests with two lead-in designs—the Vahana and the first-generation CityAirbus program.

Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, said, “We have learned a lot from the test campaigns with our two demonstrators. The CityAirbus NextGen combines the best from both worlds with the new architecture striking the right balance between hover and forward flight. The prototype is paving the way for certification expected around 2025.”

Initial performance targets are a modest 43-NM range flying at 65 knots’ cruise speed, said Airbus. Low noise signature is another, often underestimated, advantage of electric flight. Design goals for CityAirbus NextGen are sound levels below 65 dB(A) during fly-over and below 70 dB(A) during landing. And the design does not require moving surfaces or tilting parts during transition. “The CityAirbus NextGen meets the highest certification standards (EASA SC-VTOL Enhanced Category),” according to Airbus. “Designed with simplicity in mind, CityAirbus NextGen will offer best-in-class economic performance in operations and support.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. Airbus/France are playing to the mass psychosis that electric is “better for the planet”. If people believe that is true, then they will throw money at it and it becomes a growth sector.

  2. Electric can be low-noise, as claimed. But so can ICE. How many prop-driven aircraft have had a particular focus on noise? Few. The Lockheed YO-3 did, and with it’s 6-cylinder Continental powering a slow-turning prop, was able to operate well below 1,000ft above the jungles of Vietnam at night without ever taking a hit.
    Another of the ‘advantages’ of electric that really isn’t.

    • IDK, while I’d love to fly a YO-3, it’s not really going to solve the same mission needs. Motor gliders never sell as well as I think they should. Convenient soaring sounds nice to me.

  3. Paul’s discussion with the other journalist about these vehicles was really interesting. Perhaps another story illuminating why all the manufacturers think they will be selling planes in 2025 would be popular?

    • When all the federal and private grant monies are on electric research, CEO’s will hire teams of people to build and promote it.

      When all the climate research money is earmarked for funding AGW research, funny how “all scientists” will agree with AGW theory.

      Money funds bias. Same as it ever was.

  4. 70 decibels landing is still higher than the 65 decibels max in the Paris town planning guidelines. They are shutting down the heliport when the lease expires after levels of over 70 decibels were measured in the nearest apartments.
    Another contradiction as the city is officially all in support pilotless of electric flying taxis for the next Olympic games.