Reveled in September, Airbus announced the next iteration of its eVTOL development, the CityAirbus NextGen. This fully electric vehicle is equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electrically powered propellers as part of its uniquely designed distributed propulsion system. It is designed to carry up to four passengers in zero-emissions flight for multiple applications.
As more information about NextGen comes out, this week Airbus announced it has selected Thales and Diehl Aerospace to design and develop the primary and secondary flight control computers for the eVTOL aircraft, respectively. The two flight control computers will be redundant and completely independent of one another to improve system-level safety of NextGen.
“I’m delighted to announce today the first system partnership for the development of our CityAirbus NextGen” Joerg P. Mueller, head of urban air mobility at Airbus said in the release. “UAM is a joint effort. Nobody can do it alone. Airbus is reaching out to potential partners from the industry to design and build an optimised vehicle for safe and efficient air transport in urban environments. With Thales and Diehl, we are proud to have two excellent partners with a lot of expertise on board.”
Thales and Airbus have a long standing relationship from the company’s commercial aerospace business. Thales has been responsible for developing Airbus’ now industry-leading fly-by-wire flight controls beginning with the A310 some 40 years ago. Diehl also has deep ties with Airbus and Thales and has extensive experience developing avionics systems on commercial airliners and helicopters.
“We are thrilled to see that our close cooperation with Airbus and Diehl is once again delivering concrete results through an agreement that will add a whole new dimension to air mobility,” Yannick Assouad, Thales Executive Vice President, Avionics, said, commenting on the new partnership. “With this safe and innovative flight control solution, we are working together to build an airspace environment we can all trust.”
Why it matters: Thales and Diehl’s partnership with CityAirbus brings decades of avionics prowess in fly-by-wire technology and systems architecture to the eVTOL space. With EASA working on special rules for the certification of aerial mobility crafts and Airbus’ relationship with the regulator, CityAirbus is likely to be a technological and commercial success. Expect more partnerships coming from CityAirbus NextGen to be announced as details of the development emerge.