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Latest Airbus flying taxi is one you might want to hail

So-called “flying taxis” could be buzzing over cities before the decade is out, and Airbus is among those that will be competing for customers.

The aerospace giant this week unveiled the latest version of its electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) aircraft that could become its very first flying taxi. Sporting a sleek look, the CityAirbus NextGen take the best bits from its earlier designs that include the CityAirbus and Vahana demonstrators. Airbus revealed its latest eVTOL aircraft in a video (below) shared online this week.

Designed for trips in urban areas, the revamped eVTOL vehicle features fixed wings, a V-shaped tail, and eight electrically powered propellers.

It can carry up to four passengers in a zero-emissions flight of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) at speeds of up to 75 mph (120 kph).

Notably, CityAirbus NextGen’s designers have worked to make the machine as quiet as possible, important if it’s to make regular trips — including takeoffs and landings — in populated areas. The aviation company says its new air taxi keeps noise levels below 65 dBA (A-weighted decibels) during fly-overs and below 70 dBA during takeoff and landing, making it significantly quieter than a conventional helicopter.

“We are on a quest to co-create an entirely new market that sustainably integrates urban air mobility into the cities while addressing environmental and social concerns,” Bruno Even, CEO of Airbus Helicopters, said in a release.

He added that just as important as the vehicle technology itself are matters such as urban integration, public acceptance of flying taxi services, and automated air traffic management, prompting Airbus to carefully consider these areas, too.

The CityAirbus NextGen aircraft is currently in the design phase, with the first flight of a prototype planned for 2023.

While a growing number of companies are designing and building their own flying taxis for urban transportation services, Airbus, with its years of aviation experience in research and innovation, is certainly well placed to succeed in the space.

Ultimately, the decision to allow eVTOL air taxi services in urban areas will come down to regulators who need to be satisfied with the safety of not only the aircraft, but also the traffic control systems that underpin those services.

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