Airbus Helicopters’ demonstrator FlightLab has successfully tested an electric flight control system. This is in preparation for a new human-machine interface (HMI) that will equip CityAirbus NextGen, Airbus’ eVTOL prototype. The milestone is important in advancing a new generation of electric-powered urban air mobility aircraft.
Pilot controls were considerably simplified. The electric flight control system provides enhanced piloting assistance. Marking a first in the helicopter industry, one single piloting stick replaces the three conventional pilot controls (cyclic, pedals, collective) and can control all aircraft axes. Using the single stick, the pilot can perform all maneuvers: take-off & landing, climb, descent, acceleration, deceleration, turn, and approach.
The single stick takes up less space, offers improved visibility to the pilot, and is combined with a revised HMI that uses simple displays, providing information specifically tailored to eVTOLs.
“From the start, we designed this system considering every certification parameter in mind as it will be a big step forward in validating the design of our urban air mobility eVTOL, CityAirbus NextGen. The advantage of an electric flight control system is enormous, especially when it comes to reducing pilot workload and ultimately enhancing mission safety. It is also a great example of how our demonstrators are used to mature the techno-bricks necessary to prepare the future of vertical flight,” says Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters.
Airbus Helicopters is finalizing a new system’s details following the successful flight test campaign. This system will be tested as part of the Vertex project in collaboration with Airbus UpNext. The project aims to enhance autonomy and simplify mission preparation by managing navigation effectively.
CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL
As a pioneer of electric propulsion, Airbus has recently unveiled a fully electric eVTOL prototype called CityAirbus NextGen. This innovative development aims to revolutionize air mobility by offering a new transportation service while significantly reducing emissions in the aviation industry.
CityAirbus NextGen is an all-electric, four-seat vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototype. Based on a lift and cruise concept, it boasts an 80-km operational range and 120 km/h cruise speed – intended to support various flight operations in cities and communities.
“The idea for an efficient air transport service between strategic locations in urban and suburban environments – and what we now call CityAirbus NextGen – first originated from our belief that urban and advanced mobility can be moved into the sky to provide communities with additional ways to reach their destination, by complementing existing means of transport. With decades of experience certifying aircraft, Airbus successfully developed two electric VTOL demonstrators, CityAirbus and Vahana. The lessons learned from this double-demonstrator approach, as well as the continuous improvements in sound technology across Airbus’ portfolio of products, have been essential to creating the CityAirbus NextGen prototype, Airbus’ new generation of eVTOL.”Airbus
The CityAirbus NextGen’s eVTOL aircraft adopts innovative design elements for a robust and seamless architecture:
● Fixed wings
● A V-shaped tail
● Eight electric-powered propellers as part of its uniquely designed distributed propulsion system
The design of the CityAirbus NextGen facilitates quiet flights, making it ideal for urban environments. The aircraft prioritizes safety and efficiency during hover and cruise flight phases by incorporating a combination of in-house and externally sourced components. This collaborative approach with our operator and airline partners ensures that the aircraft’s design meets the operational needs of passenger transport, medical services, and ecotourism missions.