THE A³ arm of Airbus has completed a series of full-scale test flights by its all-electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing aircraft, named Vahana.
Vahana, as reported by A³ by Airbus, reached a height of 5m before descending safely at the Pendleton UAS Range in Oregon. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.
The aircraft is Airbus’s innovative approach to future urban air mobility.
“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” Vahana project executive Zach Lovering said.
“In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.”
The Vahana project is being developed at A³, the Silicon Valley innovation outpost of Airbus Industrie. Vahana aims to ‘democratise’ personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision, according to Airbus reports.
“Vahana’s first flight demonstrates Airbus’ unique ability to pursue ambitious ideas quickly, without compromising the quality and safety for which the company is well-known,” A³ CEO and former project executive of Vahana, Rodin Lyasoff said. “For A³, it proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus.
“Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”
Founded in May 2015, A³ (pronounced ‘A-cubed’) is the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley. Mr Lyasoff said A³ concentrated on projects “centred around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productisable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale”.