Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury thinks it is important for the company to invest in and take urban air mobility and pilotless aircraft seriously because it can help the manufacturer to develop its commercial planes.
Airbus is testing a range of urban air mobility solutions, including electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles, Vahana and CityAirbus.
Faury believes that such projects act as a testbed for electrification and pilotless technologies, which can be applied to its larger commercial planes.
“Many steps are required before [pilotless planes] become a reality,” Faury told Arabian Business in an interview in Paris.
“The first one is technology, it’s not yet there but we are making progress. The second one is regulation. The third one is public acceptance, which might take time. Are you ready to get on a plane today without pilots and go across the Atlantic?”
Many believe Dubai could be one of the first urban areas to experiment with air taxis. For Faury, the sector is one that holds business potential because of the convergence of needs and technologies.
With over half of the world’s population residing in urban areas, there is a greater need for clean mobility solutions.
Faury added: “We are pursuing this avenue. We think that safety is absolutely critical, more so than any other aviation device because it is flying over cities. The first step is urban air mobility with pilots and the next one, the ultimate one, is without pilots.
“There is another reason why we are very serious about urban air mobility; it is a playground for decarbonised technologies. We can test those technologies on a small scale. And then we can scale up when we think we have something.
“So it is a way to prepare the decarbonised technologies of large planes on a smaller scale much faster and with less money.”