Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace Stephen Fitzpatrick is to inject a further $50 million into the company to keep the company and its VX4 eVTOL aircraft development program running.
The company suffered a setback to the VX4’s testing program last August when its prototype crashed at Cotswold Airport, UK. The uncrewed aircraft had achieved 18 takeoffs and landings and untethered flight at speeds of up to 43mph (70km/h) before the incident.
A second generation, full-scale piloted VX4 prototype is nearing completion at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol, UK. The company plans to demonstrate this aircraft in public later this year, including at the Farnborough Airshow in July and to and from Heathrow Airport in London.
Following the flight test program and planned public demonstrations, Vertical plans to finalize the multi-rotor VX4’s design and to certify it by the end of 2026. The aircraft will carry a pilot and four passengers, have a range of up to 100 miles (160km)N and a cruise speed of around 150mph (240km/h).
Fitzpatrick said, “Since founding Vertical in 2016 the company has achieved significant technical progress both in its prototype program and its certification plans in 2023 that I believe is not reflected in our share price.
“Given the success I have seen in the past 12 months, I am more confident than ever in our world-class team and I am delighted to further support the company with additional funding.”
The company said that the investment will keep the company and VX4 development, including continued development of the certification aircraft design going until April, May or June next year and provide time to launch further funding rounds.
Mike Flewitt, chairman of Vertical said, “I am delighted that Stephen has committed to further funding Vertical. We are on track to deliver a transformative UK-developed electric aircraft to our customers across the globe.”
The company has already built a complete battery powertrain with Molicel cells for the next prototype aircraft. It also says it has 1500 pre-orders for the VX4 aircraft worth over US$5 billion from more than a dozen customers and is engaged in discussions for further capital pending the flight test campaign of its second prototype.