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Business Air News Bulletin
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Airbus Helicopters pioneers user-friendly ways to fly eVTOLs
Pilot controls are simplified by a single stick, electric flight control system that replaces the three conventional cyclic, collective and pedal controls and manages all aircraft axes.
The NextGen eVTOL pilot will be able to perform all manoeuvres using a single stick control.
Read this story in our November 2023 printed issue.

Airbus Helicopters' demonstrator FlightLab has successfully tested an electric flight control system in preparation of a new human machine interface (HMI) that will equip its CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL prototype.

The pilot controls have been considerably simplified thanks to the enhanced piloting assistance provided by the electric flight control system. Marking a first in the helicopter industry, one single piloting stick replaces the three conventional pilot controls (cyclic, pedals, collective) and is able to control all aircraft axes. Using the single stick, the pilot is able to perform all manoeuvres: take off and landing, climb, descent, acceleration, deceleration, turn and approach.

The single stick takes up less space, offers improved visibility to the pilot and is combined with a revised HMI that uses simple displays, providing a selection of information specifically tailored to eVTOLs.

“From the start, we designed this system considering every certification parameter in mind as it will be a big step forward in validating the design of our urban air mobility eVTOL, CityAirbus NextGen. The advantage of an electric flight control system is enormous, especially when it comes to reducing pilot workload and ultimately enhancing mission safety. It is also a great example of how our demonstrators are used to mature the techno-bricks necessary to prepare the future of vertical flight,” says Tomasz Krysisnki, head of research and innovation.

After the success of the flight test campaign Airbus Helicopters is working on finalising the details of this new system before new tests are conducted in the framework of Vertex, a project conducted in partnership with Airbus UpNext that will advance autonomy even further by managing navigation and simplifying mission preparation.

Airbus has been one of the pioneers in 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 an advanced air mobility solution with eVTOLs, not only to offer a new mobility service, but also as an important step in its mission to reduce emissions in aviation across its product range.

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