Airbus and Hiratagakuen partner to develop AAM in Japan


Airbus is partnering with Japanese helicopter operator Hiratagakuen to develop AAM services in the Kansai region of central south Japan and beyond.

Through the agreement, Airbus and Hiratagakuen will explore the aspects required to launch a commercial transportation service with the French OEM’s CityAirbus NextGen. A joint project to organise a simulation of routes, concepts of operations and necessary equipment for safe flights in Kansai has been selected by the Osaka prefecture. The project has a demonstration flight scheduled for later this year.

Hiratagakuen is a Kansai-based helicopter operator specialising in helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), transportation of personnel, flight training, and maintenance.

Balkiz Sarihan, head of UAM Strategy Execution and Partnerships, Airbus, said: “We are honoured to further our long standing collaboration with Hiratagakuen by working on this exciting journey towards zero emission flights. Their expertise in commercial air transport and air medical services operations makes them an ideal partner for defining the operational framework for advanced air mobility with CityAirbus NextGen in Japan.”

The project aims to launch air mobility services beyond urban environments. This includes use cases ranging from air medical services to commercial air transport and ecotourism. Airbus and Hiratagakuen plan to use an H135 helicopter to test advanced navigation and communication technologies for safe operations of eVTOLs in urban environments, while simulating CityAirbus’ flight configuration.

Mitsuhiro Hirata, vice president, Aviation Operation Division, Hiratagakuen, said “We are very pleased to conduct a demonstration flight in the Osaka-Kansai region with Airbus for the future of mobility, using the latest H135 helicopter. We have been operating Airbus helicopters for many years and highly appreciate their high safety, performance, operational reliability and proven after-sales support. We are aware that a revolution in air transportation is now approaching in the Osaka area, and we expect CityAirbus NextGen to play a central role in this revolution.”