Earlier this year, CityAirbus eVTOL demonstrated its first untethered flight. Only weeks later, the company has announced it successfully completed its first autonomous flight. This is an extraordinary accomplishment for Airbus as it seeks to bring its aerial mobility prototype to market and demonstrates the ability to fly without an operator on-board. Nonetheless, the company states it plans to initially operate the vehicle with a pilot on-board for “mainly for psychological reasons,” an Airbus spokesperson said.
A recently published YouTube video, shown below, demonstrates the vehicles is able to takeoff, hover, and land all with the push of a single button. While Airbus has only demonstrated these simple maneuvers, the company intends to conduct more extensive flight testing at its Airbus Helicopters facility in Manching, Germany.
“We will extend the flight envelope of the aircraft, so we will fly forward and we will fly at medium and higher speeds than we did here in Donauwörth. There we have a secured area to do this kind of flight envelope expansion we need to do,” Bebesel says.
CityAirbus marks the second full-scale eVTOL prototype revealed by the company following its successful completion of a 138-flight test program with its Vahana eVTOL vehicle.
Why it matters: CityAirbus marks the second full-scale eVTOL prototype from the company, after Airbus Vahana. With demonstrated flight tests in both piloted and autonomous regimes, Airbus promises to be adaptable to current and future market demands in aerial mobility. If all goes well, the current prototype will continue flight testing for the remainder of the year in order to demonstrate the ability to perform safe operations without the need for an operator.