At Airbus Flightlab, tomorrow’s technologies are put to the test in a real-world environment. Today, the Airbus Flightlab ecosystem offers access to flight test platforms across the entire scope of Airbus’ business lines, from commercial aircraft and helicopters to defence and space.
Launched in 2010, Airbus Flightlab uses flight testing as the principal means of achieving proof of concept for a variety of future technologies developed at Airbus.
Its mission is:
- To identify future technologies that require flight testing, particularly those for which modelling is not enough,
- To offer a support function for design optimisation and flight clearance,
- To provide access to flight test aircraft via regular flight testing slots.
Airbus Flightlab focuses on testing the maturity and robustness of future technologies. Key areas of inquiry include:
- Emission reduction: Technologies include methane emission monitoring, VTOL noise measurement, SAF and hydrogen emission performance, and fuel reduction.
- Autonomy & safety: Technologies include single pilot operations, massive data capturing and capitalisation, systems health and usage monitoring, and dissimilar sensing.
- Connectivity & service: Technologies include 4G/5G aircraft connectivity, smart monitoring based on wireless wearable sensors, display and sensor integration, and airborne laser communications.
- Fighting COVID-19: Technologies include in-flow sanitisation.
Flight test platforms, which are Airbus test aircraft or helicopters, are modified and transformed to support the technology to be tested. A single flight test platform can be used to evaluate the performance of several different technologies.
Since 2010, this Flightlab has tested a variety of technologies, including BLADE’s wing laminar flow. Today’s key focus areas include testing the feasibility of single pilot operations and measuring the emission performance of SAF and hydrogen programmes. Flight test platforms include A320, A330/A340, A350 and A380.
Launched in 2020, this Flightlab focuses on testing autonomous technologies for improved flight safety (i.e. obstacle avoidance), evaluating hybrid-electric propulsion systems (i.e. engine back-up system) and measuring VTOL sound levels in urban environments.
Defence and Space
To be launched in 2021, this Flightlab will focus on testing connectivity technologies for future smart flying hospitals, methane emission monitoring systems and aerial seeding for afforestation. Flight test platforms include C295, A310 MRTT and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).