Airbus Helicopters expects to complete the first flight of its CityAirbus urban mobility demonstrator sometime in March, as the vehicle continues its testing program at the manufacturer’s facility in Donauwörth, Germany
The company had originally targeted the end of 2018 for the flight, but the project required “a bit more fine tuning than we expected,” Marius Bebesel, head of the CityAirbus program, told reporters during a media briefing.
“I think on the vehicle we were ready to go, it was more the [aircraft’s] ground control station and the monitoring [systems that caused the delay],” he said.
The 2.2-tonne aircraft is fully electric, operating at 800 volts with four batteries. This is a contrasting approach to that taken by fellow eVTOL pioneer Bell, which has chosen a hybrid system for its Nexus vehicle.
“What we need is a vehicle to be able to cope with the requirements in a big city,” said Bebesel. “So what we have done with the CityAirbus is really to develop a dedicated electrical vehicle for operation in [an] urban environment.”
CityAirbus is designed to carry four passengers, and the need to be able to do so was a key requirement of the project, said Bebesel. “We wanted to have a certain transport capacity because you need it to really have the right business case,” he said. “The approach we follow here is to be as efficient [and] as compact as possible, so this is why the size of the CityAirbus is relatively compact.”