Test flight of the autonomous aircraft lasted 53 seconds and reached 5m altitude
Vahana, the all-electric, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) “air-taxi” from Airbus’ Silicon Valley innovation unit A³, has completed its first full-scale flight test.
Held on January 31, 2018 at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon, the flight was fully self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.
“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” said Vahana project executive Zach Lovering. “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.”
According to Airbus, the eight-rotor Vahana aims to democratise personal flight and answer a growing need for urban mobility, using electric propulsion and energy storage. In this case, the eVTOL aircraft also uses self-piloting technology to operate without a passenger.
Specifications from the Vahana team note that the 6.2m wide craft had a take off weight of 745kg, although did not specify the weight or capacity of the battery system. Following the successful hover flights, the team will now turn to additional testing, including transitions and forward flight.
According to a separate blog post on the aircraft by Lovering, the company will also now work with California component manufacturer MAGicALL, which will provide motors for the project.
“Vahana’s first flight demonstrates Airbus’ unique ability to pursue ambitious ideas quickly, without compromising the quality and safety for which the company is well-known. For A³, it proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus,” said A³ CEO and former Project Executive of Vahana, Rodin Lyasoff, . “Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”