Airbus Forms Air Mobility Initiative

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Airbus is heading a Germany-based partnership aimed at “making urban air mobility within and between cities a reality.” Called the Air Mobility Initiative (AMI), the program will set up a series of research projects focused on three areas: electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, unmanned traffic management (UTM) services and airport and city integration. According to Airbus, AMI partners plan to first address the technological, infrastructural, legal, and social prerequisites for the implementation of advanced air transport.

“In many parts of the world, eVTOLs will offer a whole new mobility service in the near future,” said Markus May, Airbus head of operations for urban air mobility. “Airbus and the AMI partners are aware that the introduction of such a system requires the cooperation of many players with different competences. Our goal is to build a transport service that benefits society and this is what we are setting up here in Bavaria.”

Once the projects are ready, AMI is planning to carry out demonstration test flights in the region around Ingolstadt. Airbus says the initiative is expected to cost around €86 million ($90.7 million) over a period of three years to include €17 million ($18 million) in funding from the Free State of Bavaria and €24 million ($25 million) from the German federal government. Alongside Airbus, AMI members include the City of Ingolstadt, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Flugsicherung, Diehl Aerospace, Droniq, Munich Airport, Red Cross and Telekom.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “In many parts of the world, eVTOLs will offer a whole new mobility service in the near future,”

    A very non-specific answer.

    WHERE in the world? Give us examples.

    “Whole new mobility service”–What is NEW? Give examples of “mobility service.”

    “Very near future”. That’s an open-ended statement. At least give us a best estimate.

    This dream has been floated for DECADES. Recall when it was predicted that cities would increasingly rely on STOL Strips? London City airport was a good example–build STOL strips on in industrial wasteland. It was initially used for Shorts Skyvan and Twin Otter commuter operations, with a 3500′ runway and steep approaches requiring special certification. The proposal was met with public demonstrations about “airplanes flying overhead at low altitude. The proposal flopped. De Havilland came up with the Dash 7–a 4 engine, pressurized STOL turboprop–specifically for this nascent market. It turned out there were few other markets that needed those capabilities. The strip was enlarged to 5500′ to accommodate the BAE 146 4 engine STOL jetliner. Today, business aircraft are a big part of the airport utilization.

    People who dream of STOL and VTOL aircraft tend to forget the issues of conducting flight operations in urban areas. Not only must the AIRCRAFT be specially certified for STOL and steep approaches, but the flight crews as well. They forget that these airports also need places for planes to park, and auto parking for the passengers. An airport takes a lot of land–not only for the runways, but taxiways, ramps, aircraft parking, passenger parking, terminals, etc. Look at a diagram of any airline-served airports–far more land is required for aircraft operations, maintenance buildings, safety zones, passenger access and parking, fuel farms, etc. that just the runway–a mistake most “City Center Activists” overlook.

    For a closer-in example, consider Chicago Meigs–which exhibited all of the same problems of short runways, lack of space, non-existent instrument approaches, and steep approaches. It was popular with visiting executives–Pilots learned to cope with it–but locals opposed it.

    These same problems will doom the “Urban Mobility” concept.