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Airbus Vahana eVTOL wraps up flight testing

Airbus’s Vahana eVTOL demonstrator has concluded its flight test campaign, logging a total of 13.41 hours across 138 test flights.

Airbus Vahana eVTOL first flight
Airbus’s Vahana eVTOL demonstrator performed its first flight in Pendleton, Oregon, on Jan. 31, 2018. Airbus Photo

Airbus vice president of urban air mobility systems Zach Lovering reported in a Nov. 27 blog post that the Vahana program performed its last test flight on Nov. 14. Lovering promised to share more details in a future post, meanwhile noting that the fully electric, autonomous VTOL aircraft flew a total of 487 nautical miles (903 kilometers) over the course of the flight test campaign.

Vahana’s farthest flight was 27.13 nm (50.24 km), while its longest flight duration was 19 minutes 56 seconds, Lovering reported. “In the end we couldn’t be more proud of the stats we put up on the board with this project,” he wrote.

The single-seat, tilt-wing Vahana demonstrator first took to the air in January 2018. Lovering’s post was the fourth in a series recounting the month-by-month history of the program, starting with its inception in 2016 as one of the first projects approved for A3, Airbus’s Silicon Valley innovation center.

This year’s milestones included Vahana’s first full transition flights in early May, at speeds of 90 to 100 knots. The program also conducted noise testing in May. According to Lovering, “The noise measurements during the cruise phase were about five to seven decibels less than the lighter-weight Cabri G2 and about the same as the heavier Bluecopter during hover.”

(Airbus’s Bluecopter demonstrator, unveiled in 2015, is an H135 helicopter that was modified to achieve a significantly lower acoustic footprint than the production model. The Cabri G2 is a two-seat training helicopter that Airbus has adapted into the unmanned VSR700; that prototype performed its first flight on Nov. 8. )

Vahana is one of two eVTOL demonstrators that Airbus has revealed publicly, the other being the four-passenger CityAirbus. In contrast to Vahana’s tilt-wing design, CityAirbus incorporates four large carbon fiber ducts, each containing a pair of coaxial, counter-rotating propellers.

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