In 2016, Vertical Aerospace Ltd. was founded by Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of OVO Energy, with the vision of decarbonizing air travel using the best technology from the aviation, energy and automotive industries. In early September 2018, Vertical Aerospace revealed it had 28 aerospace engineers and "experts from technologically advanced sectors such as Formula 1, Energy and Defense." In October 2019, Vertical Aerospace publicized it had 70 employees and was actively hiring around 20 engineers, technical experts and operations personnel. As of March 24, 2021 the company announced it has 120 employees.
On Sept. 10, 2018, the Bristol, United Kingdom-based startup announced it had built and flown the UK's first full-scale fully-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft outdoors.
On Oct. 16, 2019, the company announced it had built and flown the world's first "electric air taxi capable of carrying 250 kg (550 lb)". The prototype, named Seraph, completed its maiden flight at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales on Aug. 22, 2019.
On Aug. 10, 2020, Vertical Aerospace unveiled a 13 second YouTube teaser animation of its production aircraft. The eVTOL's capacity will allow one pilot and four passengers, use fly-by-wire technology, have a composite fuselage, and allow customization of the landing gear allowing the purchase of either skids, wheels or flotation landing gear as required by the customer.
On Aug. 26, 2020 the company revealed their new aircraft for Urban Air Mobility, the VA-X4 (and it was reported on Dec. 10, 2021 the aircraft model's name is now the VX4). The aircraft has a very sleek and modern design holding five people (one pilot and four passengers), has a cruise speed of 241 km/h (150 mph), a range of 161 km (100 miles), a separate baggage compartment, space for baggage next to each seat, has twelve propellers, a high wing, a V-tail, has retractable tricycle wheeled landing gear and is 100% electric.
Safety is at the heart Vertical Aerospace and comes before anything else. VA-X4 will be flown by experienced pilots and certified through EASA, at exactly the same safety levels that we have all come to rightly expect from commercial airlines. VA-1X will have exceptional safety levels, inherent redundancy and be a really safe, great way to travel.
The interior of the VX4 was designed to create an outstanding passenger experience with side doors allowing entering and exiting the aircraft with ease. There is a separate luggage compartment and room for luggage at your seat. The aircraft sports a skylight and large side windows providing spectacular views for the passengers. USB ports will be available to charge your phones, pads and laptops while screens above will provide flight status information.
The aircraft is all electric, providing emission-free air transportation and the company's objective is to power their aircraft with renewable energy whenever possible. In addition, the company is also working with suppliers to provide them with a sustainable supply chain. The company has revealed that the VX4 eVTOL aircraft can achieve noise levels which are 30 times quieter than the equivalent helicopter. Because the aircraft is aerodynamically efficient, it will be able to fly its missions with far less energy than a helicopter would need.
The VA-X4 has been designed to be a high performing aircraft, able to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities.
The company purchased the Formula 1 motorsport engineering group MGI Consultancy in October 2019 and is now called Vertical Advanced Engineering. Vertical Aerospace stated in their Aug. 26, 2020 press release announcing the VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft that, "it is developing cutting-edge aircraft by combining the rigour and discipline of aerospace with the pace and agility of F1 (Formula 1 racing, engineering and materials)".
The company plans to spend more than $100 million to have its production eVTOL aircraft certified and relaunched a new fundraising round in August 2020. The company announced on Aug. 26, 2020, that it will begin manufacturing of the VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft shortly, with manufacturing taking place in the United Kingdom in Bristol.
A March 24, 2021 Flight Global in-depth article revealed, among other details, that Vertical Aerospace foresees producing several thousands of the VA-X4 in the first few years once manufacturing begins and seeing profitability in the 2024-25 time frame.
It was reported by eVTOL magazine on Dec. 10, 2021 that Vertical Aerospace has unveiled its full-scale VX4 aircraft mock-up and hence the name of their aircraft has now changed from the VA-X4 to the VX4.
On September 22, 2022, the United Kingdom's Civil Aviation Authority issued a Permit to Fly for the VX4, enabling the company to start the flight test phase of their program. The full-scale VX4 prototype successfully completed its first hover flight on September 24, 2022 with pilot Justin ‘Jif’ Paines on board.
The company has revealed their 2022 capital plan continues to be on track, with net cash outflows used in operating activities for the full year to be about £80 million GBP. As of October 2022, Vertical Aerospace has over 1,400 pre-orders from airlines and other commercial operators for their aircraft.
Aircraft type: eVTOL UAM aircraft
Capacity: 1 pilot and 4 passengers
Cruise speed: 241 km/h (150 mph)
Range: 161 km (100 miles)
Payload: 450 kg (992 lb)
Propellers: 8 propellers (each rear VTOL propeller is considered one propeller)
Electric motors: 8 electric motors
Windows: Large windows and skylight providing spectacular views for passengers
Wing configuration: High gull wing with flaps and ailerons, and the wing ends are both considered winglet and anhedral surfaces
Tail configuration: V tail with rudders
Tail feature: Under the tail there are VHF antennas which have been positioned to offer some aerodynamic benefit at high angles of attack
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. Electric batteries, electric motors and small propellers are a much safer aircraft because there are exponentially less parts, using more reliable parts such as electric motors and batteries which making electric aircraft not only less complex but makes them more reliable then their complicated multiple-parts petroleum fueled engines and complicated multiple-parts transmissions.
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