Helicopters Magazine

Airbus FlightLab tests electric flight control system for CityAirbus NextGen

October 12, 2023  By Helicopters Staff

Airbus tests an electric flight control system for CityAirbus NextGen. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus Helicopters’ demonstrator FlightLab successfully tested an electric flight control system in preparation of a new human machine interface (HMI) that will equip CityAirbus NextGen, Airbus’ eVTOL prototype. Airbus states this milestone represents an important step towards ushering in a new generation of electric powered urban air mobility aircraft. The company unveiled its fully electric CityAirbus NextGen in September 2021.

The pilot controls have been considerably simplified, explains Airbus, thanks to the enhanced piloting assistance provided by the electric flight control system. Marking what the company describes as 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 maneuvers: take-off and landing, climb, descent, acceleration, deceleration, turn, and approach.

The single stick takes up less space, explains Airbus, offers improved visibility to the pilot and is combined with a revised HMI which 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,” said Tomasz Krysinski, Head of Research & Innovation at Airbus Helicopters. “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.”


After the success of the flight test campaign Airbus Helicopters notes it is working on finalizing 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 by managing navigation and simplifying mission preparation.

In September 2021, Airbus 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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