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Airbus Aims to “Disrupt the Aerospace Industry”

Company spotlights cutting-edge projects at its pavilion

By James Wynbrandt

Airbus is showcasing two projects here at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017: Vahana and Transpose. The projects were launched last year by Airbus’ Silicon Valley-based A3 (pronounced “A-cubed”) incubator initiative, whose goal is to “disrupt Airbus Group and the rest of the aerospace industry before someone else does,” according to the company.

Vahana is a self-piloted aircraft designed to carry a single passenger or cargo, which Airbus wants to make “the first certified passenger aircraft without a pilot.” A small-scale mock-up of Vahana is among the “urban air mobility” vehicles on display at the Airbus Pavilion (427, 436). Vehicle design is complete, many critical subsystems have been developed or procured, and production partnerships are established, Airbus said. A full-size prototype is scheduled for completion by year’s end, and a “productizable” demonstrator by 2020. Meanwhile, Airbus is testing Voom, an on-demand-via-app helicopter air taxi service in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Transpose is a clean-sheet rethinking of aircraft cabin architecture and the passenger experience, using modular, quickly reconfigurable cabins, using the concept of modular cargo pods deployed by airlines today. System designers envision modules such as a gym, coffee bar, kid-safe play zone, or sleeping compartments that could be quickly installed or removed from an airliner. A3 is developing the prototype in a warehouse in San Jose, California, containing a full-scale mock-up of an Airbus A330. Airbus Group’s cabin and airframe engineering experts as well as its industrial design team are involved, and manufacturing work around an initial module has commenced, Airbus said, as have “conversations with regulators.”

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