Airbus has signed a trilateral agreement with Thales and Diehl Aerospace for the joint development of the flight control computers of CityAirbus NextGen, the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle being developed by Airbus. The future air taxi is due to make its maiden flight in 2023.
Both Diehl and Thales are developing their own system that will be integrated into a dissimilar architecture to comply with the new European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulation for eVTOL. This architecture is essential to ensuring the redundancy of the computers and the vehicle’s safety. The developments will be supported with public funding from the German and French governments, respectively.
Thales is responsible for the primary computing system, while Diehl is developing the secondary flight control computer. The system ensures that the second independent flight control computer monitors the data of the primary computer system permanently, and it can also take over the flight control itself.
The fully electric CityAirbus NextGen was revealed in September 2021 at the Airbus Summit. It is equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electrically powered propellers as part of its distributed propulsion system. It is designed to carry up to four passengers in a zero emissions flight in multiple applications. CityAirbus is being developed to fly with a 80 km range and to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h, making it suited for operations in major cities for a variety of missions. It is optimized for hover and cruise efficiency, while not requiring moving surfaces or tilting parts during transition. Airbus is developing a Urban Air Mobility solution with eVTOLs not only to offer a new mobility service for urban areas, but also as a first step in its quest to reduce emissions in aviation all over its product range.