Kansai, Japan-based helicopter operator Hiratagakuen is partnering with Airbus to develop advanced air mobility services in the Kansai region and beyond. This is a key addition to the company's strong regional footprint and growing international network to pioneer the future of mobility.
The two companies will tackle those crucial aspects required to launch a commercial transportation service with the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft. As a major first step, the partners' joint project to organise a simulation of ideal routes, concepts of operations and necessary equipment for safe eVTOL flights in the Kansai region has been selected by the Osaka prefecture, with a demonstration flight scheduled for later this year.
With the aim of implementing air mobility services beyond urban environments, the teams will look at developing CityAirbus NextGen AAM solutions for use cases ranging from air medical services to commercial air transport and ecotourism. An H135 helicopter will be used to test advanced navigation and communication technologies for safe operations of eVTOLs in urban environments, while simulating the CityAirbus NextGen's flight configuration.
Hiratagakuen vice president, aviation operation division Mitsuhiro Hirata says: “We are very pleased to conduct a demonstration flight in the Osaka-Kansai region with Airbus for the future of mobility using the latest H135 helicopter. We have been operating Airbus helicopters for many years and highly appreciate their high safety, performance, operational reliability and proven after-sales support. We are aware that a revolution in air transportation is now approaching in the Osaka area, and we expect the CityAirbus NextGen to play a central role in this revolution.”
Airbus head of UAM strategy execution and partnerships Balkiz Sarihan adds: “We are honoured to further our long standing collaboration with Hiratagakuen by working on this exciting journey towards zero emission flights. Its expertise in commercial air transport and air medical services operations makes it an ideal partner for defining the operational framework for advanced air mobility with the CityAirbus NextGen in Japan.”
Hiratagakuen specialises in helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), the transportation of personnel, flight training and maintenance. The company's current fleet includes 14 H135 and two H145 helicopters.
In September 2021, Airbus unveiled its eVTOL prototype the CityAirbus NextGen to explore advanced air mobility technologies and bring urban air mobility services to life. The company has recently announced the construction of a dedicated centre to test the aircraft's systems in the lead up to its maiden flight. Airbus is also working closely with industrial and institutional partners to lead the development of urban air mobility ecosystems, as recently announced with ITA Airways in Italy, or through the launch of the Air Mobility Initiative in Germany.
The relationship between Airbus and Japan dates back over 60 years. More than 600 commercial and fixed wing and rotorcraft have so far been delivered to Japanese operators. Airbus leads the Japanese helicopter market with over 50 per cent market share in the civil and parapublic sectors, and over 370 helicopters in service with 100 customers. In Kobe, Airbus' helicopter facilities offer a strong suite of helicopter products, training services and turnkey solutions across emergency medical services, law enforcement, electronic news gathering and parapublic segments.