This new Airbus air taxi has a 50-mile range and is quieter than a hairdryer

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Airbus has introduced its latest zero-emission eVTOL, designed to carry four people with a noise decibel range lower than a hairdryer when flying – which will radically cut into the noise pollution factor of a futuristic vision of eVTOLs buzzing around busy cities. Nearly five years in the making, this prototype targets a flight range of 50 miles (80 km) and a cruising speed of 75 mph (120 km/h).

Airbus’s latest prototype, the CityAirbus NextGen – unveiled at the opening of its new CityAirbus test center, which will be dedicated to testing systems for eVTOLs, in Donauwörth, Germany – is set to take its maiden flight this year.

The CityAirbus NextGen is an electric lift-plus-cruise vehicle designed for a variety of travel in major cities, including passenger transport, medical services, and ecotourism. Airbus says it will partner with operators and airlines to fly the model worldwide, with plans for it to take flight in Italy, Germany, Norway, and Japan, as well as regions in Latin America.

While at first, the CityAirbus will be flown by a pilot, it’s equipped with an operational automated flight mode that could enable future autonomous flying.

The aircraft, which can reach cruising speeds of 65 knots (about 75 mph) weighs two tons and has a 40-foot wingspan – so it’s by no means a tiny aircraft. It has a V-shaped tail, fixed wings, and a distributed electric propulsion system, with 16 electric power units and eight electric propellers. Back when Airbus introduced the NextGen design in 2021, it promised that these features keep sound levels to below 65 A-weighted decibels (dBA) during fly-over and below 70 dBA during landing – so that’s about the sound of a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner at landing, even less in flight. Perhaps closer to people talking loudly. Of course, Joby Aviation has its own air taxi that is 45.2 dBA when flying overheard, which it says is quieter than a typical conversation.

Electrek’s Take

Airbus is among many companies working on an electric aviation future, including US’s privately held Beta with its sleek CX300, a plane with a 50-foot wingspan, as well as establish players like Boeing and Embraer. In California, the aforementioned Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation, backed by companies like Toyota, Stellantis, and Delta and United Airlines,  are both developing battery-powered eVTOLs like Airbus’s. Since today’s batteries can support limited range and weight, these aircraft, for now at least, are designed to just carry a few passengers for short distances, putting their usefulness in competition with helicopters or even trucks for cargo. Of course the costs of producing these aircraft are astronomical to start, so we can just expect a few well-heeled passengers to be ferried around, or for critical services like medical evacuations on the immediate horizon, with the promise of a broader future on the horizon.

Then again, some companies have stopped gambling on an electric aviation future altogether and have turned their focus to low-carbon fuels.

Photo: Courtesy of Airbus


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