Airbus will begin testing its Vahana personal electric aircraft in November, according to reports in technology publications.
Vahana is a tilt wing electric air vehicle developed by Airbus’s Silicon Valley subsidiary A3 (pronounced A cubed). Airbus says the eight engine short-range electric aircraft will ‘help usher in a future in which urban air mobility (UAM) transforms daily life for billions of people’.
The tests will be conducted at Eastern Oregon regional Airport, US, where A3 has a hangar.
Major full-scale components for Vahana have been produced, including wings, fuselage, avionics components and actuators, and A3 has ‘begun full-scale vehicle integration’ of these.
Wired reports the aircraft will fly and land autonomously using inertial reference, lidar and GPS.
A3 speaks of ‘a fleet of millions of Vahanas’ that could eliminate slow, congested ground-based commuting. ‘Even addressing a fraction of a percent of this market would result in the highest aircraft production rates in history — not to mention the time and energy it will save commuters,’ it says.
Flight Safety Australia’s September-October edition, published online next week, examines progress in electric aircraft and investigates whether these are the next stage of aviation’s evolution or a dead end with parallels to 1960s predictions of widespread supersonic travel.