Vertical Aerospace’s X-Factor
Rolls-Royce Electrical announced on March 9 that it was selected by Bristol, England’s Vertical Aerospace to power its all-electric VA-X4 air taxi (shown); Rolls-Royce acquired Germany-based Siemens’ electric aircraft propulsion systems business unit in 2019. According to the press release, this is the company’s first production aircraft agreement, after several partnerships on demonstrators. Rolls-Royce will design the “system architecture of the whole electrical propulsion system, the electric power system that includes our latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution and the monitoring system that will support operations.”
Meanwhile, Vertical has renamed its aircraft designations. What was previously called Vertical Aircraft’s “Proof of Concept” (POC) is now the VA-X1 and its Seraph is the VA-X2. The VA-X4 is the new designation for its winged, vectored-thrust, five-seat air taxi previously designated the VA-1X. It is expected to fly 120 miles (190 km) of over 200 mph (320 km/h) — improvements over its previously announced VA-X4 performance estimates — and “is on course to certify in 2024.” The company expects to roll out the VA-X4 this summer, with initial tethered tests starting by the fall and untethered tests next year.
In February, Alpharetta, Georgia-based Solvay announced that it is partnering with Vertical Aircraft to develop the VA-1X composite structure. Solvay plans to “provide access to its extensive composite and adhesive qualified product portfolio and specialized technical and application support” at Solvay’s European Application Centers and at Vertical’s facilities in Bristol.