Airbus: VTOL Prototype To Fly This Year

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Airbus officials recently provided the European media with an update on their CityAirbus project to develop a four-seat VTOL aircraft, and said they expect a prototype to fly by the end of December, in Germany. “With this concept and the right approach, you can deliver an opportunity in cities,” Marius Bebesel, head of the urban air mobility project, said at the media event. “This is the first step for us, showing that the business models are working. Then the next steps I would say would be the technical milestones, such as electrification, to reduce the costs.” Airbus anticipates that fully certified VTOLs should be flying by 2023, according to Rotorhub.

The aircraft will be driven by four 140-kw lithium-ion batteries to power the eight Siemens SP200D electric motors, which directly drive the eight fixed-pitch propellers, according to a report in VerticalMag based on Bebesel’s news conference. “The only real mechanical part on this aircraft is the propeller shaft,” said Bebesel. “Of course, this simplicity has a big impact on operational cost, and this simplicity has an impact on maintenance costs.” Airbus is targeting a range of about 60 miles and a speed of about 75 mph for the aircraft, according to Bebesel. Those parameters will enable the VTOL to operate efficiently in “all the megacities of the world,” he said.