Airbus Envisions Autonomous Airliners


Airbus has created a new innovation center in Shenzhen, China, near Hong Kong, where it will pursue research that would enable a single pilot to fly commercial aircraft, according to Bloomberg News. Airbus Chief Technology Officer Paul Eremenko told Bloomberg this week, “We’re pursuing single-pilot operation as a potential option, and a lot of the technologies needed to make that happen have also put us on the path towards unpiloted operation.” Eremenko said a projected pilot shortage drives the research. Airbus said in a news release the new innovation center will work to “accelerate R&D, application, and industrialization of in-flight experience, connectivity, new energy, and urban air mobility [and] cultivate an integrated hardware and software ecosystem.”

“I think the general aviation space in China is just opening up,” Eremenko told Bloomberg, in Hong Kong. “There’s an opportunity for China to sort of take a leap ahead, as it has been prone to do in other areas, and design the aerospace system, design the regulatory regime to be future looking, forward looking, to enable urban air mobility.” The new Innovation Centre is part of an “extended worldwide innovation ecosystem” which includes the Silicon Valley innovation centre, A^3, which is working on the Vahana flying taxi.