About three months ago, we reported that Airbus was moving ahead with its electric aircraft project called Vahana. The company announced more good news after the procedural test flight a few weeks ago.
Airbus Says Project Vahana Is Ready For More Testing
The electric air mobility sector is locked in a fascinating duel — Airbus versus Boeing. Each is spending a lot of money and resources to become the undisputed electric aircraft leaders. Of course, when one company does something, as we just wrote about Boeing’s HorizonX, Airbus also has some news. After the successful first test flight last month in Pendleton, Oregon at 8:52 AM on January 31, 2018, the full-scale aircraft, dubbed Alpha One, took off. It reached a height of 5 meters (16 feet) before descending safely.
The following new video shows the making of the autonomous air vehicle Vahana. It also shows the Airbus Vahana test flight with its passenger-drone capability taking off and hovering over the ground, as well as the challenges it had to overcome.
Air Taxis Are Getting Close
If you haven’t already read our previous stories on the Airbus Vahana, it is an autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft designed to eventually take human passengers and cargo into the air. Essentially Vahana is Airbus’ version of what an electric VTOL should be. It is an electric aircraft powered in flight by six rotors that give it its VTOL capacity. Once the angle of its airfoils has been adjusted, it can move in any direction in flight mode. VTOLs stand to exceed in urban point to point short-hops by blending taxi, ride-sharing, and limousine services.
A few startups and other more familiar names are also popping up, such as DeLorean and the Lindbergh VerdeGo Aero. They are challenging the two international aeronautic giants. Although the Airbus Vahana is not in direct competition with Boeing’s HorizonX, both companies are eyeing electric mobility. The first step is the local-electric air hop, taxi service types, then commuting 100 to 500 miles, followed by mid-range and finally long-range to international travels. This air assault is launched on two fronts, with the local hops best handled by VTOLs and the longer hops with more traditional hybrid jets ditching kerosene.
How far away are air taxis from today? Roughly two years, at least according to Uber’s and Lilium‘s best estimates, perhaps as far away as five years. Nonetheless, electric air liability is shaping up to become a reality sooner than later.
Airbus has shown its Vahana is air-worthy and will continue its maturation. The next step is to move from point A to point B in an autonomous way.
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