Having spent most of its history focusing on air travelers between countries and continents, Airbus now just wants to help commuters get around town.
The European aerospace company unveiled a brand new flying taxi called CityAirbus NextGen earlier this week. Strongly informed by Airbus old eVTOL concepts, the zero-emission plane has two main objectives: to run quietly and to cover short distances quickly.
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Airbus won’t be pulling out of the jumbo jet sector anytime soon, of course, but the announcement of the electric aircraft represents a significant commitment to the burgeoning urban air mobility industry – another indicator that air travel is changing rapidly. and seismically.
The CityAirbus NextGen itself looks like one of the company’s helicopters, only with a fixed set of wings and a V-shaped tale. The aircraft can accommodate four passengers and is powered by a unique propulsion system with eight propellers (six on the wing, two on the tale). As it will fly over areas where people actually work and live, Airbus has placed emphasis on reducing noise as much as possible. To this end, the propulsion system is optimized for efficiency in hovering and cruising, producing sound levels below 65 dB during flight and 70 dB during landing.
It still has a lot of zip, however. The eVTOL, which can be remotely piloted, will have a flight range of 50 miles and can reach a top speed of 75 mph. It might not sound so impressive, but it’s more than fast enough to get around town, especially since you can avoid all car traffic. A trip from Manhattan to Brooklyn, for example, wouldn’t take more than a few minutes.
“We are looking to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility in cities while addressing environmental and social concerns,” said Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters. “Airbus believes that the real challenges are as much urban integration, public acceptance and automated air traffic management as vehicle technology and business models.
As promising as the CityAirbus NextGen may seem, it is still in the design stage. Airbus, however, hopes to build its first prototype flight by 2023. If all goes according to plan, don’t be surprised if you call an Airbus flying taxi for the last leg of a trip before the end of the decade.
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