The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Two separate Airbus group entities—the Silicon Valley-based A3 advanced technology subsidiary and Airbus Helicopters—are leading efforts to launch Airbus's entry to the eVTOL market with a pair of technology demonstrators being used to define the planned design.

A3 was responsible for flight testing the single-seat Vahana model and Airbus Helicopters is working on the four-seat CityAirbus aircraft. In June 2019, Airbus confirmed that neither of these models will be type certified for service entry. In April 2019, the company began design work on a more fully defined eVTOL prototype, based on information gathered from the Vahana and CityAirbus demonstrator programs.

On May 3, 2019, Airbus Helicopters confirmed that the CityAirbus model had flown for the first time that day. On Dec. 21, 2019, the aircraft made its first untethered and remotely piloted flight. 

Flight testing of the Vahana concluded after a flight test campaign of 13.41 hours and 138 flights since the start of the program in Pendleton, Oregon, on Jan. 31, 2018. The demonstrator aircraft flew a total of 560 miles (903 km) during the test campaign, with the longest flight being just over 31 miles and the longest duration being 19 minutes 56 seconds.

Airbus v-p of urban air mobility systems Zach Lovering reported in a November 27 blog post that the Vahana program performed its last test flight on Nov. 14, 2019. Lovering promised to share more details in a future post, meanwhile noting that the fully electric, autonomous eVTOL aircraft flew a total of 487 nm (903 km) over the course of the flight test campaign. In May 2019, Airbus reported that the aircraft had achieved full transition from vertical to horizontal flight. During testing, the aircraft flew at 12 different intermediate speeds up to its projected top speed of 115 mph.

On Oct. 2, 2019, Airbus Helicopters signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to cooperate in the field of VTOL aircraft. The agreement covers work such as the European manufacturer's Racer demonstrator, the certification of new piloting assistance systems such as Airbus's EAGLE technology, and thermal/electrical hybridization of rotorcraft (including new eVTOL designs).

On July 31, 2020, Airbus achieved a first automatic takeoff, flight stabilization and landing with CityAirbus at its Donauworth facility in Germany. It also announced plans to move the aircraft to its Manching site, near Munich, in order to expand the flight envelope to include forward movement from around the end of August.

In September 2021, during a sustainability summit conference at its headquarters in Toulouse, Airbus broke a long silence over its plans for the advanced air mobility sector, announcing the CityAirbus NextGen aircraft. It unveiled a design for a fixed-wing aircraft, with a V-shaped tail and eight sets of electric motors and propellers. An engineering team led by Airbus Helicopters is working on the detailed design for the CityAirbus NextGen model, with the aim of achieving a first flight with a prototype in 2023, en route to type certification in 2025. It will carry up to four passengers on flights of up to 80 km (50 miles) and at speeds of 120 km/h (75 mph).

From November 2021 through May 2022, Airbus partnered with various companies to assist them in producing the CityAirbus NextGen. In November 2021, Thales and Diehl Aerospace signed on to jointly develop flight control computers for the CityAirbus NextGen. In March 2022, Spirit AeroSystems agreed to manufacture and develop lighter and more aerodynamic wings for the CityAirbus NextGen in a partnership with the design team of Airbus Helicopters. In May 2022, Magicall was selected by Airbus to supply electric motors for the CityAirbus NextGen.

In late April and early May 2022 Airbus progressed its plans to implement the CityAirbus NextGen into cities. On April 27, Airbus and ITA Airways agreed to collaborate on urban air mobility in Italy. The agreement calls for local partners of companies to participate in the launch of operations for the CityAirbus NextGen. On May 4, Airbus began an air mobility initiative in the German city Ingolstadt. With the support of local partners, the project will assess how eVTOL operations such as the CityAirbus could connect German cities. 

In June 2022, Airbus selected two German companies, KLK Motorsport and Modell- und Formenbau Blasius Gerg, to produce the rear structure of the CityAirbus NextGen. Both companies have worked with Airbus in the past.

In July 2022, Airbus announced the construction of a dedicated test center for the CityAirbus NextGen. The facility is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2023 in southern Germany.


type certification granted

Type certification of CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft by the end of 2025

test flight

First flight of CityAirbus NextGen prototype before the end of 2023

program launched

Launch of CityAirbus NextGen program


On October 2, 2019, Airbus Helicopters signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to cooperate in the field of VTOL aircraft. The agreement will cover work such as the European manufacturer's Racer demonstrator, the certification of new piloting assistance systems such as Airbus's EAGLE technology, and thermal/electrical hybridization of rotorcraft (including new eVTOL designs).

During the 2019 Paris Air Show, Airbus confirmed that in April 2019 it had begun design work on a new eVTOL aircraft prototype based on learnings from development work with the Vahana and CityAirbus demonstrators.


Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

Airbus has a very strong and long track record of bringing new aircraft to market. Its Airbus Helicopters division is well placed to advance its ambitions in the eVTOL sector, and this asset is complimented by the wider expertise being cultivated in the A3 by Airbus business unit. Unlike some bullish start-up ventures, Airbus's Urban Air Mobility division is wisely advocating a more cautious approach to making the eVTOL dream a reality, citing the need to ensure a solid safety case for the new-generation aircraft. It envisages initial service entry in the late 2020s. It has significant expertise in technologies such as autonomous systems (through its Wayfinder program) and also in air traffic management. Looking ahead to potential service entry for new eVTOL aircraft, Airbus also benefits from having an established customer and product support network around the world.

Airbus's September 2021 announcement that it will certify a winged eVTOL called the CityAirbus NextGen finally brought clarity to the European aerospace's groups plans. Some observers had the impression that it might shelve work to support the advanced air mobility sector, instead prioritizing its ambitious plans for hydrogen-powered airliners. However, there is little doubt that Airbus has the engineering capability and certification experience to bring a new eVTOL to market. The group's top management has made it clear that long-term investment in sustainable aviation is a priority. Since then, it has backed up this commitment with sustained investment in the program under the auspices of its Airbus Helicopters division.

As 2022 drew to a close, the European company appeared to be make progress on plans to build a full-scale prototype ready to start flight testing during 2023.

CityAirbus NextGen Models

CityAirbus Specifications

local vtol Lift + Cruise


  • Passenger Capacity
  • Range
  • Cruise Speed
    75 mph
  • Powerplant Type
  • Power Source
  • Endurance
    15 min
  • Max Altitude
  • Takeoff Distance
  • Landing Distance
  • Empty Weight
    4,850 lb
  • Payload Weight
    2,204 lb


  • Length
    26 ft
  • Width
    18 ft
  • Height
    26 ft
  • Wingspan
    18 ft

Airbus’ Urban Air Mobility division has been working on both CityAirbus and the smaller Vahana aircraft as development platforms and does not intend to fully commercialise either aircraft. Instead, it will use the lessons learned from these programs to define and develop the aircraft it does intend to bring to the market. CityAirbus is being led by the European group’s Airbus Helicopters division. Airbus’s involvement in these programs is in the context of its leading contribution to the European Union-backed Urban Air Mobility Initiative, which is part of the wider European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities. Airbus has committed long-term funding for both programs as part of a wider 9 percent increase in research and development spending by the group.

CityAirbus has eight fixed pitch propellers powered by eight 100 kW electric motors. The propellers are housed within ducted high-lift propulsion units.

Key Personnel

Eduardo Dominguez-Puerta
Eduardo Dominguez-Puerta

Vice President (VP)