Airbus Vahana flies 50 test flights


Almost a year ago, Airbus showed off the first full-scale test flight of its prototype VTOL – Vahana. Last week, Airbus A3 revealed that Vahana has since taken 50 full-scale test flights.

In a blog post to the media, Vahana’s project executive Zach Lovering said that Vahana had flown 50 flights for a total of over five hours on the Beta full-scale prototype. The sub-scale prototype has flown 1,277 test flights for over 51 flight hours since the project started.

The announcement comes just over a year since the full-scale Vahana’s first flight which was a basic vertical take-off, hover and landing test. Since then, the aircraft has been moving further and faster, with flight times in excess of seven minutes and speeds of over 50kts (57 mph).

Early specifications for the Vahana Beta show a possible cruise speed of 125kt and a range of 60 miles. The Vahana Beta seats two passengers and is completely autonomous. On-board batteries drive eight 60hp motors which power the eight propellers.

Throughout 2019, Vahana will be taking test flights to test its flight controls, navigation, failure detection and mitigation, and noise-cancelling solutions during flight. The flight tests are taking place at the Pendleton UAS range in Oregon.

The blog post closes with footage of a transition test-flight in which the aircraft takes off vertically and transitions to forward flight, achieving a speed of 57mph with a 30-degree wing tilt, before rotating 180-degrees and landing.

Vahana is just one of three VTOL projects under development by Airbus. The manufacturer’s air taxi VTOL concept CityAirbus is expected to take its first flight in March. The Pop.Up Next is a collaborative project between Airbus and carmaker Audi AG – the aircraft is still in the concept stage and has yet to take a test flight.