Airbus has selected Spirit AeroSystems to design and manufacture the wing for its CityAirbus NextGen urban air mobility vehicle.
Work on the project will be carried out at Spirit’s facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a plant it acquired from Bombardier in 2020. Composite wings for the Airbus A220 are already manufactuered at the site.
Announcing the agreement at the Heli-Expo show in Dallas on 9 March, Balkiz Sarihan, head of UAM strategy, execution and partnerships at Airbus said choosing a partner with Spirit’s expertise is key for the programme.
“The integrated wing is absolutely paramount in setting the safety standards and providing the highest proportion of lift possible.”
Airbus says the wing will be able to transmit the aerodynamic loads while being optimised for the right balance between hover and cruise efficiency.
Sam Marnick, chief operating officer of Spirit, says the activity will take advantage of the company’s “composite and wing capabilities” to develop the 16m (52ft)-wide single-piece structure.
No details of the quantity of wings to be built under the initial contract have been disclosed. Sarihan declines to say how many prototype aircraft will be assembled to support the development effort.
“We are not talking about the details of the contract,” she says.
First flight of the CityAirbus NextGen is scheduled for 2023, with a certification target of 2025.
Wings will be shipped to Airbus Helicopters’ plant in Donauworth, Germany for integration with the fuselage, which is being produced in-house.
Although Spirit is already building A220 wings in Belfast, Marnick says there will be no need to extend the site should it subsequently be awarded a production contract for the CityAirbus NextGen.
Airbus on 8 March announced it had signed an agreement with Saudi Arabian operator The Helicopter Company to support the development of UAM operations in the Kingdom.