Vahana, an electric autonomous aircraft from A³ by Airbus, completed its first full-scale flight test, reaching a height of 5 meters (16 feet) before descending safely on January 31, 2018. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was fully self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.

“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” said Zach Lovering, Project Executive of Vahana in a statement on February 1, 2018. “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. A self-piloted, single passenger, all electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft was created in attempt to answer the growing need for urban mobility. The goal is to democratize personal flight by leveraging the latest technologies such as electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision.

 

“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,” said Rodin Lyasoff, A³ CEO and former Project Executive of Vahana. “Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”

The test was completed at the Pendleton UAS Range in Pendleton, Oregon. Following the successful hover flights, additional testing will be carried out, including transitions and forward flight.