17/2018

Urban air mobility: Escaping the traffic jam in the air

The CityAirbus by Airbus Helicopters
The CityAirbus by Airbus Helicopters
In 2030, a good 60 percent of the world's population will live in urban regions and megacities. More than 500 million people will then be affected by traffic jams on the roads every day. City planners are looking for ways to prevent complete gridlock. Airbus Helicopters is working on a revolutionary solution in Donauwörth, Bavaria. The goal: Simply fly over the traffic jam.

To this end, the company has developed a new type of aircraft: the CityAirbus. The battery-powered electric aircraft can take off and land vertically and will also fly autonomously in a later version. It can carry up to four people and works similarly to a taxi: passengers order a seat via app and can then board at a nearby landing point.

The CityAirbus thus responds to the flexible and individual needs of people in cities. And the electric engines allow for an emission-free and low-noise flight – an absolute must, especially in large cities.

Conquering the third dimension

Airbus has made urban air mobility a focus of its development work throughout the group. More than a hundred scientists, engineers and developers are working in a newly established corporate division – and are also exploring the closely related topic of unmanned flight.

At the same time, Airbus is helping regulatory authorities worldwide to determine how autonomous aircraft can safely fly over densely populated urban areas. To this end, Airbus is testing a drone-based parcel delivery service in the Skyways project, together with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore. The service was launched in 2017 on the campus of the National University of Singapore. The results are meant to serve as a decision-making tool for governments worldwide as they further develop the regulation of drones.

CityAirbus takes off

The CityAirbus, the flagship of the Urban Air Mobility Program at Airbus, has been developed mainly in Donauwörth for the last three years or so. The engineers are also exchanging ideas with their colleagues in Silicon Valley, where Airbus’s think tank, A3, has been developing the demonstrator for an autonomous single-seat aircraft called Vahana since 2016.

The first flight of the CityAirbus is already planned for the end of 2018. Until then, a model of the aircraft can be admired at the ILA Berlin.