Airbus and Italian flag carrier airline ITA Airways have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on urban air mobility (UAM) in Italy.
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 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,” says ItA chairman Alfredo Altavilla. “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.”
The CityAirbus NextGen is a fully electric vehicle equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail and eight electrically powered propellers. It is designed to carry up to four passengers, including a pilot, in zero-emission flights for multiple applications. It 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.
Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury says: “This agreement is testimony to the strong relationship between Airbus and ITA Airways. It is an opportunity to leverage our shared ambition of pioneering sustainable aerospace and advance new air mobility solutions for zero-emission vertical flight in support of our cities and communities later this decade.”
ITA Airways has shown a keen interest in projects to decarbonise aviation. It recently purchased 28 aircraft direct 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.