(18 Nov 2021)
Airbus has signed a trilateral agreement with
Thales and Diehl Aerospace for the joint development of the flight
control computers of CityAirbus NextGen, the electric vertical
take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) being developed by Airbus.
Diehl and Thales are joining Airbus in investing
into the emerging eVTOL market. Both partners are developing their
own system that will be integrated into a dissimilar architecture
to comply with the new EASA regulation for eVTOL.
This architecture is essential to ensuring the
redundancy of the computers and the vehicle’s safety. The
developments will be supported with public funding from the German
and French governments, respectively.
Designed to carry up to four passengers, CityAirbus will have a range of 80 km and be able to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h. The first flight of a prototype is planned for 2023.
Thales is responsible for the primary computing
system, while Diehl is developing the secondary flight control
computer. The system ensures that the second, independent flight
control computer monitors the data of the primary computer system
permanently, and it can also take over the flight control itself.
“In the future, eVTOLs will be a key part of
mobility and will enormously enrich it – in our cities but also
beyond. For this, the safe operation of the innovative aircraft,
of course, plays an essential role,” said Josef Köcher, CEO at
Diehl Aviation. “We see a trend-setting partnership in the close
collaboration with Airbus and Thales for the reliability and
safety of the CityAirbus. We are proud to be on board with our
expertise, and we are looking forward to seeing the CityAirbus in
the skies soon.”
Thales has more than 40 years of experience in
electrical flight controls, having supplied the systems for the
first ever fly-by-wire commercial airliner, the Airbus A310.
Aerospace, a joint venture of the French partner Thales and Diehl
Aviation, has many decades of experience in avionics for civil and
military aircraft and helicopters.
“I’m delighted to announce the first system
partnership for the development of our CityAirbus NextGen,” said
Jörg Müller, Head of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) at Airbus. “UAM is a
joint effort. Nobody can do it alone. Airbus is reaching out to
potential partners from the industry to design and build an optimised vehicle for safe and efficient air transport in urban
environments. With Thales and Diehl, we are proud to have two
excellent partners with a lot of expertise on board.”
The fully electric CityAirbus NextGen was revealed
in September 2021 at the Airbus Summit. It is equipped with fixed
wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electrically powered propellers
as part of its distributed propulsion system.
It is designed to
carry up to four passengers in a zero emissions flight in multiple
applications and will have a range of 80 km
be able to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h.
The first flight of a prototype is planned for