Airbus A³ Vahana

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The Airbus Vahana (Sanskrit: Vāhana, literally means "vehicle") was an electric-powered eight-propeller VTOL personal air vehicle prototype financed by Acubed (pronounced “A-cubed”), by Airbus and Airbus Urban Mobility. The Vahana project started in 2016 as one of the first projects at Acubed, the advanced projects and partnerships outpost of Airbus Group in Silicon Valley.[1] Airbus "envision[s] Vahana being used by everyday commuters as a cost-comparable replacement for short-range urban transportation like cars or trains".[2] It was planned to be a part of urban air mobility. The project was finished in December 2019.[3]

Airbus Acubed Vahana
Airbus A3 Vahana, Paris Air Show 2019, Le Bourget (SIAE8845).jpg
Airbus Acubed Vahana at Paris Air Show 2019
Role Personal air vehicle
National origin United States
Manufacturer Acubed by Airbus
First flight 31 January 2018
Introduction none, only prototype
Status Finished
Number built 2

DevelopmentEdit

The convertible aircraft design, funded by the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, called Vahana (Sanskrit: "vehicle"), started in 2016. It was being developed at Acubed (A-cubed), the expanded project and partnership outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley.[4] Airbus said "Our work on this demonstrator confirms our belief that fully autonomous vehicles will allow us to achieve the scale required of Urban Air Mobility."[5]To test the Vahana concept, small models flew in Santa Clara, USA in 2017.[4] Acubed Vahana was planned to become part of urban air mobility. In June 2017 at the Paris Air Show the prototype Vahana Alpha One (N301VX) was publicly presented for the first time.[6] January 31, 2018 the first flight took place in Pendleton (Oregon). The full-scale aircraft Alpha demonstrator reached a height of 5 meters within 53 seconds.[7][8] By August 2018, more than 25 hover flights had been completed and the transition to forward flight had been tested.[9] Airbus finished the Vahana project in December 2019 in favor of the CityAirbus. The last flight took place on November 14, 2019. 138 test flights with a total flight time of over 13 hours and a distance of 903 km were made.[10]

By January 2019, the second aircraft, Alpha 2, was completed, while the first was testing transitions to forward flight, but was not yet flown with the wings horizontal.[11] On May 3, it achieved its first full transitions to forward flight, reaching 90 kn (170 km/h) on its 58th flight. Airbus will not produce serial versions of the Vahana or the ducted-rotor CityAirbus demonstrators.[12] The last of 138 test flights took place on November 14, 2019. The test flights had a total flight time of over 13 hours and a distance of 900 km flight.[13]

DesignEdit

The two most compelling configurations are electric helicopter and eight fan tilt-wing. The estimated electricity cost is $0.12 per kW-hr. For both configurations the hover performance estimates were based on blade element momentum theory. For now the electric helicopter configuration is shown to be more compelling at low ranges, while the tilt-wing configuration is more compelling at longer ranges.[14] The designer has not finalized the Vahana project and hope that "the electric tilt-wing configuration provides a DOC advantage and many other advantages such as reduced noise and enhanced safety for urban mobility".[15]

For both vehicles a common payload weight will be 200 lb (90 kg). A helicopter gearbox power density is assumed to be 6.3 kW/kg. Both configuration will assume 15 kg for avionics components and 15 kg for a crash rated seat. electrical actuators will take 0.65 kg each (8 units for helicopter and 12 units for tilt-wing). Additionally, the tilt-wing has two actuators (4 kg each). An additional 10% is for fittings and miscellaneous hardware.[16]

The cruise power of the tilt-wing is lower than the cruise power of an electric helicopter. The disk loading for both configurations is similar to those of many existing light helicopters. The electric helicopter hover power at short ranges is lower than those of the tilt-wing.[17]

One of the reasons why Acubed Vahana was being developed as a self-steering aircraft was because the developers expected such a big volume of flights for which the current number of pilots would not be sufficient. Another reason was the higher payload and saving on labour expenses. In contrast to autonomous driving, autonomous flying has to be navigated at a significantly higher speed and in three instead of two dimensions. This requires higher computing speed and faster sensors and actuators. The Lidar system, together with cameras and radar helped to navigate autonomously.[18]

SpecificationsEdit

Data from Electric VTOL News[19]

General characteristics

  • Crew: None (self-piloted)
  • Capacity: 1 passenger, 90 kg (200 lb), Beta: 2 pax, 200 kg (440 lb)
  • Length: 5.7 m (18 ft 8 in) , Beta: 5.86 m / 19.5 ft
  • Wingspan: 6.25 m (20 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 2.81 m (9 ft 3 in)
  • Empty weight: 695 kg (1,532 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 815 kg (1,797 lb)
  • Propellers: 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) diameter

Performance

  • Cruise speed: 200 km/h (120 mph, 110 kn) , Beta: 230 km/h (140 mph; 120 kn)
  • Range: 50 km (31 mi, 27 nmi) (Beta: 100 km (62 mi))
  • Service ceiling: 1,524 m (5,000 ft) , at 35°C, Beta: 3,048 m (10,000 ft)

See alsoEdit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Welcome to Vahana – Vahana". Vahana. 23 September 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Acubed by Airbus Group". www.airbus-sv.com. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Vahana has come to an end. But a new chapter at Airbus has just begun". Airbus. 19 December 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Acubed Vahana". evtol.news. Electric VTOL News. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Demonstrating the viability of a self-piloted, electric urban air mobility vehicle". acubed.airbus.com. Acubed. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  6. ^ Coffey with RFI, David (21 June 2019). "Paris Air Show: the race for cleaner skies". rfi.fr. Electric VTOL News. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  7. ^ Stewart, Jack (18 February 2018). "Before They Can Take Off, Flying Cars Must Defeat Bureaucracy". wired.com. WIRED. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  8. ^ "Vahana, the Self-Piloted, eVTOL aircraft from Acubed by Airbus, Successfully Completes First Full-Scale Test Flight". wired.com. WIRED. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  9. ^ Head, Elan (10 October 2018). "Vahana eVTOL aims for 'direct to autonomy'". verticalmag.com. Vertical. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Vahana's Final Flight". evtol.com. evtol. 16 December 2018. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. ^ Graham Warwick (14 January 2019). "The Week In Technology, Jan. 14-18, 2019". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
  12. ^ Guy Norris (13 May 2019). "The Week In Technology, May 13-18, 2019". Aviation Week & Space Technology.
  13. ^ "Vahana's Final Flight". evtol. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  14. ^ vahanaTradeStudy: Contains results for trade study described in blog posts on vahana.aero, VahanaOpenSource, 17 December 2017, retrieved 8 January 2018
  15. ^ "Geoffrey Bower – Vahana". vahana.aero. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Vahana Configuration Trade Study — Part II – Vahana". Vahana. 1 February 2017. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  17. ^ vahanaTradeStudy: Contains results for trade study described in blog posts on vahana.aero, VahanaOpenSource, 17 December 2017, retrieved 8 January 2018
  18. ^ Bellamy III, Woodrow (21 May 2019). "Vahana eVTOL aims for 'direct to autonomy'". aviationtoday.com. AVIONICS INTERNATIONAL. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  19. ^ "Acubed Vahana". Electric VTOL News. Retrieved 16 December 2018.

External linksEdit