THE A³ arm of Airbus has completed a series of full-scale test flights by its all-electric, self-piloted vertical take-off and landing aircraft, named Vahana.
Vahana, as reported by A³ by Airbus, reached a height of 5m before descending safely at the Pendleton UAS Range in Oregon. Its first flight, with a duration of 53 seconds, was self-piloted and the vehicle completed a second flight the following day.
The aircraft is Airbus’s innovative approach to future urban air mobility.
“Today we are celebrating a great accomplishment in aerospace innovation,” Vahana project executive Zach Lovering said.
“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.”
The Vahana project is being developed at A³, the Silicon Valley innovation outpost of Airbus Industrie. Vahana aims to ‘democratise’ personal flight and answer the growing need for urban mobility by leveraging the latest technologies in electric propulsion, energy storage, and machine vision, according to Airbus reports.
“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,” A³ CEO and former project executive of Vahana, Rodin Lyasoff said. “For A³, it proves that we can deliver meaningful innovation with aggressive project timetables, to provide a real competitive advantage for Airbus.
“Our focus now is on celebrating the work of the tireless Vahana team while maintaining the momentum of this accomplishment.”
Founded in May 2015, A³ (pronounced ‘A-cubed’) is the advanced projects outpost of Airbus in Silicon Valley. Mr Lyasoff said A³ concentrated on projects “centred around three traits: speed, transparency and a commitment to culminating in productisable demonstrators or demonstrators at convincing scale”.
THE recent abolition of the 457 Visa by the Federal Government – replaced by a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa – has had unintended consequences in the aviation industry through a looming shortage of pilots.
Australian aviation has suffered periodic shortages of pilots ever since the mass sackings of pilots that occurred during the long pilots’ strike of late 1989 – and subsequently saw an outflow of Australian pilots to international airlines.
Australian pilots have since been recognised internationally for their skills and training – so the poaching by other international carriers has continued and led to regular pilot shortages.
Now, however, the replacement of the 457 Visa with the TSS in March is causing bigger headaches.
The flow-on effect has been that pilots are poached from the Australian major national and international routes, so airlines then poach pilots from Australia’s regional routes.
Now regional areas, reliant on air travel, are feeling the pinch as schedules are changed on the fly from pilot shortages, while flights are often cancelled.
The current problems have been highlighted by regional Australian air transport group Airnorth, based out of Darwin.
“The situation is not isolated to Airnorth or Australia, and is part of a global pilot shortage that is affecting the entire aviation industry and its customers,” the company said in a media statement. ”We continue to recruit pilots and currently have 11 positions vacant.”
The issue has already come to a head, with the Federal Government moving to revise the Skilled Occupations List, to allow for foreign pilots to come into Australia on two-year work visas.
“The Federal Government intends to make changes to the occupations list every six months which makes it so important that those reliant on recruitment of overseas employees keep abreast of the situation,” said Dessie Hristova, director at Abode Migration Lawyers. “This is just one way we can help
“In this dynamic space which is full of uncertainty seeking advice from experienced immigration lawyers is important for many reasons. As experts in the field we attend stakeholder consultations and have an understanding of the government’s proposed changes.”
Ms Hristova said discussions were afoot between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia in an effort to extend the visa to four years.
She said the reasoning behind the move was that senior pilots would not be attracted to short-term relocation to Australia and regional carriers needed to attract senior pilots to fill the roles.
AIR SERVICES Australia is preparing to install supporting infrastructure and equipment at Brisbane Airport to enable the operation of the new second runway under construction.
New aviation navigation system equipment and aviation rescue firefighting services are required to support the introduction of the new runway, an Air Services Australia spoksesperson said.
Additional airfield equipment and infrastructure is set for installation, including navigational aids at each end of the new runway and a new fibre optic network. Civil works proposed in this project will support these installations.
Additionally a new Aviation Rescue Fire Fighting Service will be constructed to support the new runway.
The project is scheduled to be completed in line with the new runway being operational in 2020. The estimated cost of the project is $24.92 million.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works conducted public and in-camera hearings and took submissions in November.