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Airbus tests eVTOL navigation and communication technologies in urban environments

With the recent completion of CityAirbus NextGen’s assembly, Airbus’ advanced air mobility teams are focused on putting together the major components that make up the eVTOL prototype, gearing up for its first flight later this year. The company says in addition to reaching this major milestone, the teams continue to work on the development of the entire ecosystem, which will be necessary to operate CityAirbus NextGen.

“In order to provide passengers with the right service and seamlessly integrate it into their daily lives, it is essential to find the right use cases and the right flight routes for eVTOLs. In Japan, Airbus and helicopter operator Hiratagakuen partnered in 2022 to do just that, by evaluating the potential of CityAirbus NextGen for different types of missions in the Kansai region” according to the press release.

“The first phase of the partnership successfully ended in March 2023. During this time, Airbus and Hiratagakuen used an H135 helicopter to test advanced navigation and communication technologies for safe operations of eVTOLs in urban environments, while simulating CityAirbus NextGen’s flight configuration.

“Phase 2 of the partnership is all about testing the potential air medical use of eVTOLs in Japan’s cities and mountainous areas. Complementing helicopters’ work in these essential missions, CityAirbus NextGen’s added value will be measured through simulation flights in two different configurations. On the one hand, to transport blood between the blood supply centres of Osaka and Kobe, covering a distance of 35 km. On the other hand, test flights will simulate the transport of blood from the blood supply centre in Kobe to a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture, covering 40-55 km.

“The Japan Weather Association will be a key player in this second project, to investigate the best routes to fly over the mountainous area, bringing essential input through high-precision weather data. The winter season will be an important period for the second project. Flight availability is usually reduced during the season due to bad weather and strong winds. As a result, the simulations will also serve to measure how much time can be saved by using different combinations of transport services.”

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(Image: Airbus)

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