UAM Snapshot – CityAirbus NextGen

CityAirbus NextGen. Image – Airbus

In the emerging race to capture the burgeoning Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market, small startups and aviation industry titans are competing side by side to develop and offer innovative flight solutions. European multinational Airbus, a global heavyweight in the conventional rotorcraft domain thanks to the largess of its Airbus Helicopters division, is amongst the leading global contractors investing in the UAM domain.

At the forefront of Airbus’s UAM efforts, it’s the CityAirbus NextGen platform, a four-passenger air taxi in a multi-copter configuration. The aircraft is reportedly propelled by eight-pitch rotors powered by eight Siemens SP200D direct-drive 100-kW units that rely on four 140-kW batteries developed by Airbus Defence and Space. These rotors power four carbon-fiber ducted co-axial propellers mounted on the all-electric aircraft. Each duct provides 881 pounds of thrust for a payload of up to 551 pounds. Sustainability and safety are also cornerstones of the NextGen’s propulsion configuration and general design. The NextGen is the result of two earlier eVTOL demonstrators, the CityAirbus and the Vahana, developed over the last half-decade. The aircraft features an 80-kilometer range and has a cruise speed of 120 kph.

Over the past year, the status of the CityAirbus NextGen platform has moved swiftly from developmental concept to material realization. Having accumulated a broad supplier base for the platform’s components, Airbus officially announced the impending launch of manufacturing for the platform in 2023 to initiate an ambitious regime of prototype flight testing through 2024. Contractors engaged in these processes include Thales, Diehl Aerosystems, Spirit Aerosystems, MAGicALL, and KLK.

Beyond the technical specifications of the platform itself, Airbus has also begun to assess and invest in addressing the infrastructural requirements associated with UAM operations. Airbus has begun partnering with a diverse catalog of global entities, including the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation and Saudi Arabia-based Helicopter Service, to identify best practices and use cases to better leverage the full spectrum of UAM’s market potential in the years ahead. The industrial and financial largess of the Airbus brand and its economies of scale, combined with its accumulated expertise in platform design, are nearly certain to make the CityAirbus NextGen amongst the prominent first-generation product solutions in the UAM domain.


Senior Aerospace & Defense Analyst at Forecast International | + posts