Airbus has awarded its longstanding partner Spirit AeroSystems to build the wing of its CityAirbus NextGen “flying taxi” aircraft.
CityAirbus is the planemaker’s subsidiary and is building an all-electric, four-seater vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of reducing congestion in major cities.
It comes as the rising aircraft concept is set to enter service across the world in the next five years, allegedly reducing carbon emissions and filling a gap in commercial aviation.
Spirit AeroSystems, based in Kansas, will manufacture the wing in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and according to Airbus, the companies are working towards developing a “minimum weight solution” wing.
The wing will have the aerodynamic balance between hover and cruise efficiency, boasting an 80-kilometre range and a cruise speed of 120 kilometres per hour.
“The partnership with Spirit AeroSystems is an important step for the development of CityAirbus NextGen and its wings are key structural components for flight efficiency,” said Jörg Müller, head of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) at Airbus.
“To build this vehicle, we are proud to work with Spirit as a strategic partner who benefits from a proven track record in this field, and extensive experience in component quality and airworthiness.”
While eVTOL concepts have been around for decades, regulators have only recently invested into establishing regulations as the supply chain has continued to grow, and there is greater demand.
Compared to the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration, which is developing regulations based on previous frameworks, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is creating a new set of rules entirely.
According to US-based law firm Baker McKenzie, the EASA is developing a “one size fits all” approach to eVTOL regulations.
Spirit and Airbus have a long history, as the Kansas-based manufacturer is responsible for delivering many aircraft parts across both Boeing, the European rival, and several other commercial and business companies.
Spirit builds the wing leading and trailing edge elements for all A320 family aircraft, the pylon for the A220, the panel, wing front spar and fixed leading edge for the A350 and the wing components for the A380.
Boeing is also eyeing similar concepts, investing an additional US$450 million in January into its joint venture with Google co-founder Larry Page’s Wisk Aero. Wisk is also developing an eVTOL aircraft that can seat up to four passengers and fly autonomously.