PENDLETON, Ore.A³ by Airbus engineers in Santa Clara, California, have completed the first full-scale flight test of the company’s Vahana all-electric, self-piloted, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. During the test flight, Vahana reached a height of 16 feet (5 meters) and flew self-piloted for 53 seconds before descending safely at 8:52 a.m. Pacific Time on 31 January 2018at the Pendleton UAS (unmanned aircraft system) Range in Pendleton, Oregon.
The unmanned vehicle completed a second flight the following day. Company officials are calling the test flight, which took place two years after the aircraft was first introduced, a milestone in the advancement of urban air mobility.
“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” says 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.”
Vahana is a project developed at A³, the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus that “enables access to unique talent and ideas, new partnership opportunities, and execution at speed,” officials say. “Vahana aims to democratize personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision.”
“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,” says Rodin Lyasoff, A³ CEO and former project executive of Vahana. “Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”
Vahana leverages its self-piloted capabilities to operate without a passenger. Following these successful hover flights, the team will turn to additional testing, including transitions and forward flight.
Founded in May 2015, A³ (“A-cubed”) is the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley. A³ focuses on projects centered around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productizable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale.
Project Vahana is a vehicle project focusing on advancing self-piloted, electric VTOL flight. It is being developed at A³, the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley.