Embraer X, Airbus Lay Out eVTOL Design Considerations

 - April 18, 2019, 8:28 AM
Embraer X has started to engage regulators in Asia-Pacific to better understand the urban air mobility environment and expectations of the region for electric vertical and landing vehicles that will provide this inner-city air transportation. (Photo: Embraer X)

Embraer X, the urban air mobility (UAM) subsidiary of Embraer, and Airbus each discussed design considerations for their respective electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) designs earlier this month at Rotorcraft Asia in Singapore.

According to business development director David Rottblatt, Embraer X began conversations with more than five Asia-Pacific regulators, starting with Singapore, late last year to better understand the UAM environment and expectations of the region. “We are here to find out what the communities and regulator expects, and what is the roadmap like for UAM and eVTOL,” he said. “We have engaged all sort of demographics from regulators, pilots, and the communities.”

Embraer X unveiled its first eVTOL concept in May 2018 in response to Uber’s call for the development for its uberAIR solution. Although this will be Embraer’s first foray into rotorcraft, Rottblatt said the company is pulling from more than 60 years of aircraft developments.

“We are taking our time to make sure that our design drivers are right. And since we are still in the pre-competition stage, it is important that we all work together to develop the UAM concept as a community,” he said, brushing aside any worry that the company is behind competitors in the eVTOL race.

Meanwhile, Airbus hopes to fly its City Airbus four-seat eVTOL design by June. According to Airbus head of Asia-Pacific UAM strategy Derek Cheng, the company is in the process of designing the next eVTOL platform based on lessons learned by City Airbus and its single-seat testbed Vahana, with final design review expected by year-end and first flight to follow within a year.

Cheng said the current three design hurdles are the development of a battery pack for flight beyond 15 minutes, which will be the “main game changer"; the maturity of autonomous systems; and noise levels. On the latter, he said Airbus is working on an upper limit of 65 dB, which is the same as a passing subway train, and will affect where the aircraft can land in a city.