Over the weekend of the 24th and 25th of September, Vertical Aerospace saw its VX4 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft take off from the ground for the very first time. Vertical Aerospace is a global aerospace and technology company that is pioneering zero-emissions aviation.
The launch of the VX4 was an important for American Airlines, which has plans to incorporate 250 of them into its fleet in the future. The eVTOL is expected to be used mainly for short (30-minute) trips between airports or across the city. According to the company, the VX4 can fly at a speed of 150 miles (241 km) an hour producing less noise than a helicopter. Vertical Aerospace becomes the first British company to start flight tests with a new aircraft in over 20 years, with its full- scale, piloted prototype.
This test represented the culmination of many months preparation by a team at the controls of the VX4 for the first time.Justin Paines, Vertical Aerospace Chief Test Pilot
The test marked a significant milestone as Vertical continues to progress successfully through its intensive flight test program. The program is expected to continue for several months, completing different stages which will involve reaching higher altitudes and speeds and demonstrating the transition from vertical to horizontal forward flight. Business Insider reports that the test flight lasted around ten minutes and the aircraft rose to a height of about three feet (under one meter).
According to Interesting Engineering magazine, the VX4 is powered by a greater than one-megawatt power train which was developed in association with Rolls-Royce, the VX4 is designed to reach a top speed of 202 miles (325 km) an hour. Its range of 100 miles may seem a bit short, but the eVTOL is expected to carry not more than four passengers, apart from a pilot.
The company decided to conduct its first flight tests with a pilot on board to prove it could meet the most stringent safety standards. To do this, Vertical Aerospace received regulatory approval in the form of a “Permit to Fly” from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), after demonstrating the test could be conducted safely.
For more than 100 years the UK has been a global leader in aviation and today. We are leading the world in the development of zero carbon aircraft.Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder & CEO, Vertical
Engineers and flight technicians watched on as Chief Test Pilot, Justin Paines, took to the controls for the aircraft’s maiden take-off which saw the eight sets of aerodynamic propellers lift the aircraft from the ground at hover-thrust, while tethered to the ground for safety.
The permit and the positive results of these early tests allow the teams at Vertical to progress confidently on their mission to certify the VX4 by 2025. It is hoped the aircraft will carry a pilot and four passengers and is expected to have a range of up to 100 miles with the ability to cruise at speeds of around 150 miles per hour, with a top speed of 200 miles per hour.
The company has already received more than 1,400 conditional pre-orders from some of the world’s leading airlines, operators, lessors and tourist groups including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Japan Airlines and Air Asia and recently announced that American Airlines has conditionally committed to make a pre-payment for its first 50 deliveries of the VX4, a strong vote of confidence from the industry.