A VTOL single-passenger aircraft from Vahana, part of Airbus’ A3 innovation arm, has successfully conducted its first full-scale flight test. The autonomous “air taxi” hovered for 53 seconds, reaching a height of 5 metres, before coming back down safely.
The flying taxi industry is obviously still in its very early stages but investors and aerospace leaders have already made some sizeable bets. A test flight by an aviation giant of full-scale VTOL aircraft is a big step forward although we’re still a very long, long way away from a commercial offering to consumers.
The next steps for the Vahana project include moving beyond hovering to flying in different directions as well as integrating motors from new state-of-the-art vendor MAGicALL.
The dimensions of the vehicle are sizeable at 5.7m long and weighing 745kg. At 6.2m wide and 2.8m tall it is certainly a significant structure for one person.
Zack Lovering, Project Executive at Vahana, explained: “Our aim has long been to design and build a single passenger electric VTOL self-piloted aircraft that will answer the growing need for urban mobility. Our goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision. Our first flights mark a huge milestone for Vahana as well as the global pursuit of urban air mobility.
“After two years of planning and building, we are thrilled to see our efforts culminate in successful flight. It’s thanks to the perseverance and dedication of our brilliant people and partners — including the Pendleton UAS Range and MTSI — as well as our extended Airbus family, that we can celebrate today. Getting Vahana to this point, and at this pace, has tested our ingenuity and our resolve. Tomorrow we’ll start on the next steps of our journey."