Airbus Says VTOL Project On Track

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Airbus will be ready to fly its full-scale electric VTOL technology demonstrator by the end of next year, the company said last week. The project, which is being built by the company’s helicopter division, is designed to carry up to four passengers from crowded city centers to nearby destinations such as airports or train stations. The team recently completed testing of the propulsion system, including the ducted propellers, electric 100-kilowatt Siemens motors and all electrical systems. “We now have a better understanding of the performance of CityAirbus’ innovative electric propulsion system, which we will continue to mature through rigorous testing while beginning the assembly of the full-scale CityAirbus flight demonstrator,” said Marius Bebesel, CityAirbus chief engineer.

In the first half of next year, Airbus said, the development team expects to reach the “power on” milestone, meaning that all motors and electric systems will be switched on for the first time. The first flight is scheduled for the end of 2018. CityAirbus will be designed to fly on fixed routes with a cruising speed of about 65 knots. The test aircraft will be remotely piloted at first; later, a test pilot will be on board. When the aircraft begins operations in 2023, Airbus says, it will initially be operated by a pilot “to ease certification and public acceptance,” but the goal is to provide fully autonomous operations.

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