Airbus Helicopters is pushing ahead with its City Airbus urban mobility initiative and will launch flight tests of its four-person vertical take-off and landing concept demonstrator in 2018.

Featuring an all-composite fuselage and equipped with battery-powered electric motors that drive eight ducted rotors, the City Airbus can accommodate four passengers on short hops around cities.

"Doing this in a clever way you can very efficiently decrease power of the electric drive," says Tomasz Krysinski, vice-president research and innovation at Airbus Helicopters.

Rig trials of the rotor system have already been completed, says Krysinski. Iron bird tests of the aircraft are due this year, with unmanned flights beginning in 2018, followed by manned tests in 2019.

No performance specifications have been released and Krysinski is also staying coy on its maximum take-off weight, saying nothing other than it is "double the mass of a small car".

Airbus Helicopters' Donauwörth site is developing the design and architecture of the aircraft, while the electric drive system is being handled at the Airbus Group facility in Ottobrunn, a joint project with Siemens.

"We are living in a very nice period where the technology moves forward very fast and we want to be on top of it," says Krysinski.

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