Airbus and ITA Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on urban air mobility (UAM) in Italy. The two companies will explore the creation of tailored UAM services by identifying strategic use cases for emission-free mobility solutions.
The agreement foresees a joint approach toward local mobility stakeholders in order to onboard additional partners for the safe and sustainable launch of operations with the CityAirbus NextGen electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, currently in development. The parties also agree to identify pilot cases with the goal of securing public acceptance of UAM by demonstrating the added value that it can bring to communities.
“The partnership between ITA Airways and Airbus started with the evolution toward more modern, more comfortable and environmentally-friendly commercial aircraft, equipped with cutting-edge technologies”, said Alfredo Altavilla, Chairman of ITA Airways. “With this agreement, our partnership expands to the segment of urban air mobility for a wider, customer-centric, innovative and sustainable offer for our customers.”
CityAirbus NextGen is a fully electric vehicle 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 - including a pilot - in zero-emission flights for multiple applications. CityAirbus NextGen is being developed to fly with a 80 km operational range and to reach a cruise speed of 120 km/h, making it perfectly suited for a variety of missions.
“This agreement is testimony to the strong relationship between Airbus and ITA Airways. It is an opportunity to leverage our shared ambition – pioneering sustainable aerospace – and advance new air mobility solutions for zero-emission vertical flight in support of our cities and communities later this decade," said Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus.
ITA Airways is the Italian flag carrier airline. It was created in 2021, with sustainability as one of the fundamental pillars of its business plan. The company has shown an interest in projects to decarbonize aviation, such as the development of urban air mobility through eVTOLs. ITA Airways recently directly purchased 28 aircraft from the manufacturer, including seven A220s, 11 A320neos and 10 A330neos. The A350 will also join the company’s fleet this summer.
Since 2014, Airbus has been exploring how electric propulsion can help drive the development of new kinds of aerial vehicles. In September 2021, the company unveiled its fully electric eVTOL prototype, CityAirbus NextGen. Airbus is developing a UAM solution with eVTOLs not only to offer a new mobility service but also as an important step in its quest to reduce emissions in aviation across its product range.