With half the world’s population living in cities, traffic congestion is a daily challenge for commuters. It is forecast that as urbanization increases, by 2030 60 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities. These include sprawling megacities that are spread all over the world.
- In 2014 Sao Paulo traffic at rush hour stretched a record-setting 344 km. These enormous back-ups were found to be costing the Brazilian economy at least US$31 billion every year.
- People working in London, and driving to work, were found to be losing the equivalent of 35 days (or more than a month) every year.
With this harsh reality in mind, Airbus has a plan to enable travelers and commuters to fly over traffic jams.
Airbus Initiatives to Relieve Urban Congestion
The Airbus initiatives are revolutionary and aim to change urban travel for millions of people within the next 10 years. They include:
- Project Vahana, launched in February 2016, is developing a self-piloted flying vehicle platform for cargo transport and individual passengers. The technology used includes reliable sense-and-find, and the first prototype will be flight-tested late 2017. According to Rodin Lyasoff, CEO of the project, global demand is likely to support fleets of millions of these flying vehicles worldwide.
- Skyways, a project that is concentrating on autonomous commercial drones that will be able to fly over urban areas safely. With similar goals to those of Amazon, Airbus aims to take the lead and gain Amazon, DHS, and similar companies as customers.
- CityAirbus that will provide electrically operated aerial vehicles for multiple passengers. While the first working models will be operated by pilots, the plan is to switch to autonomous craft once aviation regulations have been changed. The feasibility study for this project is complete and the company is positive it will go ahead. Airbus has stated that flights will cost a similar amount to a regular taxi ride, but will considerably quicker and much more thrilling!
Science Fiction or Reality?
Airbus is setting its sights really high with all three of these ambitious projects. While some critics say that flying taxis and other autonomous aircraft sound more like science fiction than reality, the Airbus team is adamant that the best solutions to alleviate congestion on the ground are in the sky.
Airbus Helicopters Vassilis Agouridas is critical of current “smart city concepts,” pointing out that they totally ignore aircraft.
“That’s why we’re convinced that this represents a truly disruptive opportunity for Airbus,” he says.
There is certainly no doubt that the race to launch safe and successful air mobility has begun. In addition to developments out of the Airbus stable (or more appropriately, hangar):
- The German company e-volo launched its first electric Volocopter in March 2016 with one passenger on board.
- South African-born Canadian-American inventor and business magnate Elon Musk, wearing his SpaceX cap, stated late 2016 that he was still interested in electric jets that could take off and land vertically.
- Even NASA is working on prototypes.
Airbus recognizes that the new market is developing very quickly and is determined to be ahead of the game when it comes to these new air-focused industries.
While the new aircraft will be tiny when compared to the huge Airbus jets that currently fly the skies, Airbus parts and Airbus services will be as important as ever.
If you have an Airbus fixed wing aircraft or Airbus helicopter, Prime Industries can help with aircraft parts and services. We supply, repair and overhaul components and parts, so if you’re looking for something, call us now. We’ll do whatever we can to help.