The Airbus NextGen eVTOL – When Batman’s Ride Meets Electric Aviation

Airbus NextGen
Airbus NextGen

A Sleek Sky Taxi Straight Out of a Comic Book

Ever had one of those moments where you look at a futuristic vehicle and think “Wait, haven’t I seen that before…in a superhero movie?” Well, that’s probably what went through the minds of many an aviation geek when they first laid eyes on Airbus’ new “NextGen” eVTOL air taxi concept.

With its sleek, forward-swept wings, splayed-out lift props that almost look like robotic jazz hands, and that unmistakable V-tail design that screams “Hey, check me out!” – it’s hard not to see more than a passing resemblance to a certain caped crusader’s preferred mode of transport.

But let’s take off the rose-tinted nostalgia goggles for a moment. While the NextGen design from the European aerospace giants is undeniably stylish eye candy, the performance specs might leave some raised eyebrows.

Not the Fastest Bird in the Sky

For all its sci-fi movie looks Airbus is surprisingly candid that their electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft will top out at a modest 75 mph (120 km/h) cruise speed. That’s certainly no land speed record, even for a battery-powered sky taxi.

The range is equally humble at 50 miles (80 km) – making the NextGen more suited for those short urban hops rather than a cross-country Uber Air expedition. So what gives? Why design such a capable-looking craft only to purposely limit its performance?

Airbus NextGen
Airbus NextGen

It’s Not About the Numbers…Or Is It?

According to Airbus’ head of urban air mobility Balkiz Sarihan, being first to market isn’t the goal – doing it right is. Fair point, we suppose. After all, this is aimed at the emerging eVTOL air taxi market where safety and public acceptance will be critical.

And on that front, Airbus has clearly pulled out the stops. The NextGen boasts some impressive tech like:

  • Distributed Electric Propulsion – Having multiple props and motors provides redundancy so if one fails, the others can safely land the aircraft
  • Low Noise Signature – Under 70 dB on landing, which is comparable to a vacuum cleaner
  • Panoramic Windows – For those sightseeing jaunts over the city skyline
  • Robust Composite Structure – Carbon fiber fuselage to keep things light yet strong

So while it may not set any speed records, Airbus is betting big on making the air taxi experience whisper-quiet, super smooth, and an overall lux ride. Think sky-bound limousine service rather than an aerobatic fighter jet.

Airbus NextGen
Airbus NextGen

When Can We Call an Air Uber?

If all goes to plan, the NextGen eVTOL will take its first manned test flights by late 2023. Airbus is then targeting full certification from aviation authorities by 2025.

However, don’t expect the aerospace kings to start an air taxi service themselves. Their game is designing and manufacturing the aircraft, and then selling or leasing them to third-party operators.

While big players like Uber Air and Boeing’s Wisk are aiming to launch their own eVTOL air taxi services, having independent options from Airbus could actually accelerate the urban air mobility (UAM) ecosystem. More aircraft supply equals more route opportunities for new and innovative services.

Airbus NextGen eVTOL

The Journey Is the Destination

So at the end of the day, what are we to make of Airbus’ new electric flight machine that looks fast yet doesn’t go very fast, and has a superhero complex yet keeps things whisper quiet?

Perhaps we’re looking at it all wrong. Maybe it’s not about shattering speed records or pushing technological boundaries to their absolute limit. Sometimes innovation is about nailing the overall experience first – giving people a taste of the possible before going full throttle.

If urban air taxis do take off (pardon the pun) as a premium transit option, the goal may simply be to provide a unique, memorable way to travel short distances. A peaceful, sightseeing glide where the journey itself is the main attraction, not the raw stats.

So while Airbus’ NextGen may not have you shouting “To the Batmobile!” just yet, it could very well be the first step towards making personal eVTOL flights an accessible reality for those willing to pay a premium. And really, isn’t that what Batman’s incredible tech was always about – giving us a glimpse of an amazing future just over the horizon?

What do you think about Airbus’ relatively low-performance but high-style eVTOL design? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Airbus NextGen eVTOL


  • Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger technology demonstrator aircraft
  • Piloting: Piloted initially (plans to become autonomous when regulations allow)
  • Capacity: 1 pilot and 3 passengers
  • Cruise speed: 120 km/h (75 mph)
  • Range: 80 km (50 miles)
  • Flight Time: Up to 15 minutes
  • Maximum payload: Unknown
  • Propellers: 8 propellers (6 VTOL props, 2 pusher props, each with 4 blades)
  • Electric Motors: 16 electric motors (for redundancy)
  • Power source: Batteries (future models could be hybrid-electric)
  • Sound: <65 dB flyover, <70 dB landing
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Windows: Panoramic
  • Wing: 1 high wing, forward-swept
  • Tail: V-shaped with horizontal stabilizer
  • Landing gear: 4 fixed struts

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