Airbus to Build a Personal Airplane by 2020

The aerospace giant's Silicon Valley outpost is looking beyond Ubers and self-driving cars.

There are self-driving cars, there are drones,  and then there is the Vahana project, an Airbus- funded venture that hopes to build the first  certified passenger aircraft that doesn't require  a pilot.
The idea is reminiscent of flying car designs from the 1950s: as urban areas grow ever more  congested, their denizens need easy-to- operate, inexpensive craft that can take off and  land vertically, delivering them safely to their  destination and avoiding the traffic chaos  below.
The Vahana engineers are working at A3,  Airbus's Silicon Valley incubator, and they  believe that there's no better time like the  present to implement that decades-old dream.  According to a Medium post last month, they  hope to have a full-size prototype before the  end of 2017, and a marketable design by 2020.
The battery-powered planes would essentially  be aerial taxis, following pre-determined flight  paths and avoiding obstacles on their way to  drop off and pick up passengers. Conceptual  design drawings show room for just one  passenger underneath a retractable canopy  reminiscent of a fighter jet.
Borrowing a safety feature from light aircraft  like the Cirrus SR20, the Vahana plane would  include a parachute that would deploy in the  event of a severe malfunction.


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