Vahana, the all-electric, self-piloted, VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft from A³ by Airbus, has successfully completed its first full-scale flight test, Airbus reports.

The aircraft reached a height of 5 metres (16 feet) before descending safely. The test was completed at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was fully self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.

Democrastising flight

“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” said Zach Lovering, Project Executive of Vahana. “In just under two years, Vahana took a concept sketch on a napkin and built a full-scale, self-piloted aircraft that has successfully completed its first flight. Our team is grateful for the support we’ve received from A³ and the extended Airbus family, as well as our partners including MTSI and the Pendleton UAS Range.”

Vahana is a project developed at A³, the Silicon Valley outpost of Airbus. The company says Vahana aims to “democratise personal flight” and tackle urban mobility challenges using the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage and machine vision.

“Meaningful innovation”

Rodin Lyasoff, A³ CEO and former Project Executive of Vahana, said: “Vahana’s first flight demonstrates Airbus’ unique ability to pursue ambitious ideas quickly, without compromising the quality and safety for which the company is well-known. For A³, it proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus.”

He added: “Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahanateam while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”

Following these successful hover flights, the team will turn to additional testing, including transitions and forward flight.

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