Airbus UpNext focuses on flying future technologies at speeds well beyond what seems feasible today. This Airbus subsidiary is actively shaping the future of the aerospace industry.
 

Mission

Airbus UpNext’s demonstrators evaluate, mature and validate concepts, products and services that showcase potential radical technological breakthroughs. The Airbus subsidiary has three flagships locations in France, Germany and Spain, each contributing to rapidly develop and test future technologies in scaled applications.

Its mission is:

  • To identify disruptive aerospace trends and technology concepts  from both inside and external to Airbus, and evaluate them as potential viable products.
  • To further accelerate traditional research cycles, developing proof of concepts and completing both ground and flight testing with scale and speed. Each demonstrator is tasked with delivering critical learning within a two to three year time frame, engaging our people and partners with purpose.
  • To develop real-world applications for emerging aerospace technologies, thereby driving maturation and value.

People

Airbus UpNext’s people have one foot in the present and one in the future. They are solution-oriented, value-driven and come from different backgrounds and sectors. With a hands-on approach to bringing future technologies to life today, the Airbus UpNext team stays one step ahead, adding value to the Airbus innovation ecosystem and wider aerospace community. Each team member is fully dedicated to whichever project they are working on, while benefiting from opportunities to  apply their savoir-faire to other areas across the organisation. 

UpNext People

Current projects

Blue Condor

This demonstrator is taking a modified glider up to 33,000 feet – an extreme altitude for an aircraft that normally cruises below 10,000 feet – to analyse hydrogen combustion’s impact on contrail properties. The results will provide critical information on aviation’s non-CO2 emissions, including contrails and nitrous oxides (NOx), in advance of the hydrogen-powered ZEROe demonstrator flight testing. 

Cryoprop

Cryoprop is a new technological demonstrator to accelerate the maturation of superconducting technologies for use in the electric propulsion systems of a future hydrogen-powered aircraft.

Fresh from the paint shop, our eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator is now ready to take wing aerodynamics and performance testing to the next level.

eXtra Performance Wing

This demonstrator project is focused on accelerating and validating technologies that will improve and optimise wing aerodynamics and performance for any future aircraft. Its applications would be compatible with any propulsion solution and aircraft configuration, and would reduce CO₂ emissions, contributing to Airbus’ decarbonisation roadmap.

 

HyPower

Airbus UpNext’s HyPower demonstrator for non-propulsive energy uses a hydrogen fuel cell to power an aircraft’s Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). Within three years, the cell will be tested on board an Airbus A330 in standard operating conditions. HyPower benefits from the strong support of the Spanish government and its adoption will help reduce aircraft CO2, NOx and noise emissions. 

Optimate

This demonstrator is testing new technologies to support automatic taxiing and enhance pilot assistance at airports. The three-year research project combines a wide range of cutting-edge technologies and is being tested onboard an innovative electric truck, before performing a fully automated gate-to-gate mission on an A350 flight test aircraft. 

VERTEX

This project demonstrates simplified mission preparation and control for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, reducing pilot workload using intuitive devices on the Airbus HelicoptersFlightlab.


 

Success stories

Cryogenics and superconductivity for aircraft, explained

ASCEND

This three-year demonstrator project focuses on testing cryogenic and superconducting technologies to significantly boost the performance of electric- and hybrid-electric propulsion systems in future aircraft.

ATTOL

ATTOL

The Autonomous Taxi, Take-off and Landing (ATTOL) project leverages computer-vision technologies and techniques to successfully complete fully autonomous flight tests using a commercial aircraft. The project’s learnings will be applied to future autonomous flight concepts.

Auto’Mate

This demonstrator develops, adapts and evaluates technologies that enable autonomous air-to-air refuelling in formation flight operations. It consists of in-flight testing of the key technologies - focusing on three technological bricks: accurate relative navigation, in-flight communication, and cooperative control algorithm - to pave the way to a future autonomous air-to-air refuelling product.

Photo_DragonFly Demonstrator

DragonFly

Airbus UpNext DragonFly is a demonstrator that is exploring new pilot assistance technologies to further enhance flight safety and aircraft operational efficiency. The technologies being designed, developed and tested enable an aircraft to identify features in the landscape so that it can “see” and safely manoeuvre within its surroundings. These include automated emergency operations (diversion) in cruise, as well as automatic landing in all conditions and on ground taxi assistance.

A350 test aircraft fello fly transatlantic flight

fello'fly

This flight demonstrator project proves the technical, operational and economic viability of wake-energy retrieval for commercial aircraft.

Teleo_XO_demonstrators

TELEO

This programme demonstrated the potential to boost ground-to-space communication data rates through ultra-high-throughput optical links. Read here more information on Arabsat Badr-8 succesfully launched.  


Discover the Innovation Ecosystem at Airbus

Innovation Ecosystem A

Innovation ecosystem

Leveraging collective intelligence to deliver results

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Acubed

Transforming risk into opportunity to build the future of flight

ACIC banner Shenzhen

Airbus China Innovation Centre

Fast-tracking innovation in the heart of China

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Airbus Scale

Scaling aerospace innovation for business value

Airbus Flightlab

A flying laboratory to deliver proof of concept

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Airspace Explorer

Pioneering the future flying experience

Airbus Ventures

Airbus Ventures

Investing in innovative aerospace start-ups

Power

Airbus Cyber Innovation

A cutting-edge approach to cybersecurity research


 

Latest news

Innovation
Airbus takes superconductivity research for hydrogen-powered aircraft a step further
Airbus UpNext, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Airbus, has launched a new technological demonstrator to accelerate the maturation of superconducting technologies for use in electric propulsion systems of a future hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Read more
Innovation
New pilot assistance technologies take to the road with Airbus' Optimate demonstrator
New pilot assistance technologies take to the road with Airbus' Optimate demonstrator
Read more
Innovation
Meet Optimate, an extra pair of eyes and ears for pilots
Meet the Flying Truck, Airbus’ latest autonomous vehicle. This cockpit on wheels is designed to show how smart automation can reduce pilot workload during taxi and ease airport congestion.
Read more