September 8, 2022 By Jon Robinson
Airbus is partnering with Japanese helicopter operator Hiratagakuen to develop advanced air mobility services in the Kansai, located in the southern-central region of Japan’s main island Honshu, with Kyoto and Osaka serving as the region’s most prominent cities. Airbus describes the partnership as a key addition to its growing international network to pioneer the future of air mobility.
Through this agreement, Airbus and Hiratagakuen will focus on crucial aspects required to launch a commercial transportation service with Airbus’ CityAirbus NextGen aircraft.
The new air mobility partners will begin by organizing a simulation of ideal routes, concepts of operations and necessary equipment for safe eVTOL flights in Kansai, within the Osaka prefecture, with a demonstration flight scheduled for later this year.
The two companies will also focus on use cases ranging from air medical services to commercial air transport and ecotourism in a variety of operational contexts. To reach this objective, Airbus and Hiratagakuen will use an H135 helicopter to test navigation and communication technologies for safe operations of eVTOLs in urban environments, while simulating CityAirbus NextGen’s flight configuration.
“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,” said Mitsuhiro Hirata, Vice President, Aviation Operation Division of Hiratagakuen. “We are aware that a revolution in air transportation is now approaching in the Osaka area, and we expect CityAirbus NextGen to play a central role in this revolution.”
Hiratagakuen is a Kansai based helicopter operator specializing in Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS), 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 CityAirbus NextGen and recently announced the build of a dedicated centre to test the aircraft’s systems in the lead up to its maiden flight. Airbus is also working on CityAirbus developments with ITA Airways in Italy and the Air Mobility Initiative in Germany.