Thales and Diehl Aerospace this week signed up as partners to help Airbus bring its four-passenger CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft to market. The European avionics groups will jointly develop flight control computers for the all-electric design that Airbus unveiled in September.
In a November 17 announcement, France’s Thales and Germany-based Diehl said they will integrate their respective primary and secondary flight control computers into a new architecture that will meet the requirements of EASA’s special conditions rules covering eVTOL aircraft type certification. According to the companies, this combination ensures that the second independent flight control computer will constantly monitor data from the primary computer and can take control if needed.
Diehl Aerospace is a joint venture between German electronics group Diehl Aviation and Thales, which is a long-term supplier of fly-by-wire technology for Airbus airliners. Their joint project will receive an unspecified amount of financial support from the governments of both countries.
“In the future, eVTOLs will be a key part of mobility and will enormously enrich it in our cities but also beyond,” said Diehl Aviation CEO Josef Kocher. “We see a trend-setting partnership in the close collaboration with Airbus and Thales for the reliability and safety of the CityAirbus.”
Airbus is aiming to certify the CityAirbus NextGen in 2025. With a fixed-wing, V-shaped tail and eight electrically powered propellers, it is expected to have a range of around 50 miles and a cruise speed of 75 mph.
Jorg Muller, Airbus’s head of urban air mobility (UAM), said the selection of Thales and Diehl marks the first system partnership for the program, which came out of work done by the European aircraft maker on its smaller CityAirbus and Vahana technology demonstrators. “UAM is a joint effort. Nobody can do it alone,” he commented. “Airbus is reaching out to potential partners from the industry to design and build an optimized vehicle for safe and efficient air transport in urban environments. With Thales and Diehl, we are proud to have two excellent partners with a lot of expertise on board.”