VA-X1 (proof of concept)
Vertical Aerospace Ltd.
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
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. 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.
The VA-X1 proof of concept aircraft first flew indoors on Aug. 25, 2017 at Cotswold Airport in Kemble, Gloucestershire (United Kingdom). The VA-X1 uncrewed aircraft weighs 750 kg (1,650 lb) and first flew outdoors on June 6, 2018 at Cotswold Airport in Kemble, Gloucestershire — about 160 km (100 miles) west of London. As of the unveiling, the aircraft had flown a dozen times.
In early September 2018, Vertical Aerospace said it had 28 aerospace engineers and "experts from technologically advanced sectors such as Formula 1, Energy and Defense." Employees had come from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and GE Aviation with "extensive experience" in building certificated commercial aircraft. In a statement, Fitzpatrick also revealed that "We've learned a lot from Formula 1, both in terms of technology and pace of development. The lightweight materials, aerodynamics and electrical systems developed through F1 are highly applicable to aircraft, much more so than to road transport."
According to the company, "Vertical Aerospace is building technology to revolutionize how people fly, with the ultimate aim of making intercity air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free." Following the flight of this aircraft, the company began development of the Seraph (now VA-X2). Vertical Aerospace's 2018 goal is to have their production aircraft — unveiled in August 2020 as the Vertical Aerospace VA-1X (now VA-X4) — certified by 2022. In January 2020, the company expects to spend more than $100 million to certify their production eVTOL aircraft by late 2023 or early 2024.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL uncrewed proof of concept
- Piloting: Remote
- Capacity: It can hold 4 passengers but there were no passengers inside during any test flights
- Maximum speed: 299 km/h (186 mph)
- Range: 150 km (93 miles)
- Maximum takeoff weight: 750 kg (1,653 lb)
- Propellers: 4 propellers (each propeller set has three propellers)
- Electric motors: 4 electric motors
- Window: Canopy over cockpit
- Airframe: Carbon fiber
- Landing gear: Fixed tricycle-wheeled landing gear
- Safety features: 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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- Article: Energy Company CEO Leads Successful U.K. Test of Flying Taxi, Bloomberg, Sept. 9, 2018
- Article: Bristol start-up launches UK's first electric 'flying taxi', The Telegraph, Sept. 10, 2018
- Article: All hail Vertical Aerospace’s electric flying taxi, The Times, Sept. 10, 2018
- Article: Vertical Aerospace flies eVTOL demonstrator, Flight Global, Sept. 10, 2018
- Article: Vertical Aerospace Opens Up, Vertiflite, Jan/Feb. 2019
- Article: Vertical Aerospace Flies Seraph, eVTOL News, Nov. 4, 2019
- Article: Vertical Aerospace Set To Unveil Fixed-wing eVTOL Design, Aviation International News Online, Aug. 10, 2020
- Article: Why Vertical Aerospace thinks F1 know-how will put it in pole position, Flight Global, Mar. 24, 2021