Airbus predicts that the first commercially available flying taxi route will be operational by around 2025, said Philipp Visotschnig, chief financing officer of Airbus China, told the Beyond Expo event held in Macau on Friday.
Below is the full text of Visotschnig‘s speech at the Beyond Expo event. The text has been edited for clarity and brevity:
For half a century Airbus product line of commercial aircraft has transformed the way we live and interact with the world. By truly opening borders, connecting cultures, and changing the way we think and feel about our global neighbors. commercial aircraft have a major role to play in breaking down barriers and uniting people around the world.
Partnering with over 400 operators and customers on flying more than 48,000 routes worldwide, the 12,000 Plus Airbus aircraft in service today connect people each day. Keeping our gaze on the future is in line with our core beliefs. The next challenge for Airbus is to lead the way in making zero-emission commercial aircraft a reality. I will discuss this point and then later.
At Airbus, we are proud of how our products and services contribute to communities around the world every day. Our satellites and tracking systems have made the ocean safer, with solutions that monitor and protect naval roots at maritime assets. Airbus built aircraft instrumental in firefighting, public safety, and maintaining energy services. Airbus products and services are used for some of the most critical missions through human humanitarian aid. We support our partners in times of crisis providing aircraft satellite imagery and other services when relief teams are literally fighting against the clock. Our aircraft help transport patients for urgent medical care and the assistance of relief efforts at sea. That’s what we do.
With the very fast development of his aerospace aviation industry, China’s on track to become the world’s largest aviation market. Today we have more than 1900 aircraft commercial jetliners in service in China and deliveries to this country represent more than 25% of annual deliveries under the annual production volumes of Airbus. What has been making this possible are more than 1900 employees in China that work for Airbus and its joint ventures and commercial aircraft in multiple locations across the country.
Airbus has also been the number one helicopter partner for China for more than 50 years. This is a long-lasting relationship that began in 1967. Today Airbus helicopter is a leader in China with a 40% market share. Traditionally, our helicopters activities are based here in the Greater Bay Area. This is also where our general Innovation Center in Shenzhen is leveraging China’s innovative advantages. Here we are focusing on connectivity, cabin experience, and manufacturing technologies.
At Airbus, we believe that the future of aerospace is autonomous, connected and zero-emission. So our world is changing. And so we are. At Airbus, we want to be known not only for our exceptional products and services but also for the positive impact that we have on the world, our society and on its citizens.
Aviation has given us the possibility to explore all four corners of the world, to connect with friends, and to meet new ones, virtually every day, to feel the thrill of seeing the world, from 30,000 feet above.
But today, we know that the love for travel comes with a price. It comes with a cost. The aviation industry represents today roughly two and a half percent of global human-induced CO2 emissions. But aviation is not the problem, emissions are the problem. So how to address that?
Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation. At Airbus, we understand that, and we also understand that society expects us to rise to this challenge. This is why we are leading this journey towards clean aerospace. The aviation industry with Airbus at its forefront has committed to industry-wide decarbonization. It includes the following two key targets carbon-neutral growth, and net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050.
We at Airbus expect to make the necessary decisions by 2025 to see what is the best combination of technology. China, being at the forefront of the hydrogen economy will be part of the strategy. More short-term in the development of sustainable alternative fuels. Soft sustainable aviation fuel has the potential to drive significantly down CO2 emissions.
We have seen tremendous activity in the past few years in urban air mobility (UAM). While the industry is still in its early stages, new players continue to enter the market, and the number of UAM pilot projects involving conventional helicopter or aircraft types as electric vertical takeoff, and landing aircraft continue to rise. And until now, almost all vehicles designed for UAM rely totally, or at least partially, on electric propulsion. So that’s one of the trends that we see is electric propulsion.
As more and more operational UAM use cases take to the skies and public publicity increases, you see confidence rising, that’s also important, there’s confidence rising and a higher probability that developers will meet their development targets. As such, we predicted the first commercial UAM routes will be operational by around 2025. They may even start a little earlier.
There is a Chinese autonomous urban air mobility developer that is already operating flights and has received approval from the Chinese authorities to pilot cargo operations. Indeed, the first production facilities and supply chains are already built up for them. Similarly, when we looked at the US, there is also a maker that is already producing or setting up its production site in California with the help of a Japanese auto giant.
Most new models are designed to serve particular purposes. That’s also a trend that we see there’s a design for particular purposes, there are typically city flying taxies, which will fly within very densely populated urban areas covering distances from 15 to 50 kilometers. We see airport shuttles, which will transfer passengers from transport hubs or points of interest to airports within 15 and 80 kilometers. And we see inter- or intra- city flights, which will fly commuters routes up to 250 kilometers.
At the same time, more and more players have entered the wider UAM market. From part suppliers, traffic management providers, infrastructure suppliers and software producers. We see this ecosystem is building up. This is creating an ecosystem with a varied value chain collaboration is becoming an increasingly important aspect. Regulatory authorities must also be involved very heavily.
UAM could become a game-changer for mobility, but there are still many open questions that we need to address. I personally believe that the key to success is collaboration and the right business model.
I think OEMs should build on their experience and find the best fit UAM model. startups need to focus on public acceptance and proof of concept and suppliers and hardware providers to select value chain targets. Then we are there are we on the path to get to this $90 billion market.