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Airbus Debuts NextGen Air Taxi Ahead of First Flight

It will have a 50-mile range and a cruising speed of 75 mph.

Airbus today unveiled the prototype of its fully electric CityAirbus NextGen, an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle (eVTOL) designed to operate in major cities. With its first flight scheduled for later this year, the two metric-ton class CityAirbus has a wing span of approximately 12 meters and will have about a 50-mile (80 km) range with a cruising speed of about 75 mph (120 km/h).

The CityAirbus NextGen has a unique configuration with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail and eight electric-powered propellers.

The unveiling coincided with the opening of a new CityAirbus test center in Donauwörth, Germany, which will be used to test eVTOL systems. The center is part of Airbus' Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) strategy, and it began operations in December 2023 with NextGen's power-on. The facility will next be used for remaining tests on the motors, flight controls, avionics and other systems before the prototype's maiden flight.

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Airbus has been chasing the air taxi dream for some time now. Advanced Air Mobility between strategic locations in urban and suburban environments could complement existing transportation methods and alleviate congestion and other problems. The eVTOL could be used for everything from passenger transport and medical services to ecotourism, which is tourism directed toward threatened natural environments as part of conservation efforts.

The aircraft is designed to be quiet since it will be working in urban environments. Safety and efficiency during hover and cruise flight phases are also crucial, and NextGen relies on a mix of in-house and externally supplied components to make it happen.

Airbus has been expanding its global network to create the AAM supply chain. For example, Airbus recently signed a partnership agreement with LCI, a leading aviation company, to focus on developing partnerships and business models in strategy, commercialization and financing.

And in June, Airbus partnered with STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor company, to collaborate on R&D to support the more efficient and lightweight power electronics required for future hybrid-powered aircraft and full-electric urban air vehicles.

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