Airbus won’t rush flying-taxi plan as rival models garner orders

Airbus SE said it’s in no rush to bring a flying taxi to market and that hundreds of outline orders for rival craft will help the whole sector by encouraging progress on power systems and surface infrastructure.

The European manufacturer has yet to launch its CityAirbus design, and will instead focus on developing and maturing a prototype before entering commercial discussions with potential customers, Balkiz Sarihan, head of urban air mobility strategy, said in a briefing Thursday.

“We take, in contrast to others, a more mid- to long-term perspective,” Sarihan said in a briefing in Munich.

Airbus unveiled its CityAirbus NextGen model last year following a revamp to an earlier blueprint, and is targeting a first flight in 2023. The long gestation of a first flying taxi from the world’s biggest planemaker has seen a clutch of startups begin racking up orders and operating deals from airlines and city authorities while attracting billions of dollars in outside investment.

Airbus has no need to rush to market because its work on electric vertical takeoff and landing craft, as flying taxis are known, is 100% internally funded and not dependent on raising external finance or attracting orders, Sarihan said.

While Airbus is committed to urban air mobility and sees benefits across its wider portfolio from developing the technologies required, the sector must also pay its way, according to the executive, who sees air-medical services and eco-tourism as being among the likeliest early adopters.

“It’s not just for aerospace enthusiasts and professionals,” she said. “It absolutely has to create value.” – BLOOMBERG