DALLAS – Italian flag carrier, ITA Airways (AZ), and Airbus announced the launch of a partnership to develop an air taxi network in Italy.
The companies have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together on urban air mobility. The agreement includes the preparation of the launch of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft operations throughout the Italian nation.
The companies will also focus on the public acceptance of advanced air mobility (AAM) initiatives by local communities.
Airbus’ new eVTOL aircraft, the CityAirbus NextGen, is still under development, but it should be ready for its first flight in 2023. Airbus hopes to certify the aircraft as soon as 2025 under the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Special Conditions-VTOL rules.
The new eVTOL will be equipped with fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electric propellers. Airbus says the aircraft will carry up to four passengers, including a pilot, over 50 miles at a cruise speed of 75 mph (129 km/h). This is a normal size for this type of aircraft, similar to many other eVTOL forays.
After Airbus tested multiple technology demonstrators, such as the CityAirbus and Vahana projects, engineers decided that the wings and propellers should not tilt. This design represents a significant change in the design approach when compared to earlier demonstrators.
The CityAirbus eVTOL is part of Airbus’ sustainable aircraft strategy, as the plane manufacturer joins the efforts of the industry to achieve sustainable aviation.
Indeed, Airbus has been hard at work on its ZEROe program, building new, hydrogen-powered airliners aimed to start operations by 2035. The net-zero emissions program obtains financial and political support from the European Union (EU) and the French government.
Statements from ITA, Airbus Executives
“The partnership between ITA Airways and Airbus started with the evolution toward more modern, more comfortable, and environmentally-friendly commercial aircraft, equipped with cutting-edge technologies,” explained Alfredo Altavilla, the chairman of AZs. “With this agreement, our partnership expands to the segment of urban air mobility for a wider, customer-centric, innovative, and sustainable offer for our customers.”
Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus, added, “This agreement is testimony to the strong relationship between Airbus and ITA Airways. It is an opportunity to leverage our shared ambition – pioneering sustainable aerospace – and advance new air mobility solutions for zero-emission vertical flight in support of our cities and communities later this decade.”
Indeed, AZ recently ordered 28 Airbus aircraft from the A220, A320neo, and A330neo families. Moreover, the A350 should join the airline’s fleet later this year. Since its launch in 2021, after the bankruptcy of former Italian flag-carrier Alitalia, ITA has operated only Airbus aircraft.
With this agreement, ITA continues to invest in its future, shortly after its launch last year. The government-owned airline is currently in the process of being sold to one of the bidders, which include Lufthansa Group and Air France-KLM.
Featured image: the CityAirbus eVTOL in ITA’s livery. Photo: Airbus