Vertical Aerospace progresses certification of VX4 eVTOL aircraft


Vertical Aerospace has reported progress on its work with regulators to certify its VX4 eVTOL aircraft after hiring a former EASA certification director to help lead engagement with aviation authorities.

The four passenger, 100 mile (160km) range VX4 could be amongst the first of a new type of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, also known as air taxis, if the company achieves its goal of an entry into service in 2025.

Vertical plans to start flight testing the VX4 “over the coming months”, but has already flown two full-scale prototypes since it was founded in 2016. The Bristol, UK-based firm also says it has more than 1,350 aircraft on order, worth US$5.4 billion.

The new type of eVTOL aircraft requires close partnership between aircraft manufacturers and aviation regulators to certify. Organisations such as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA), the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) and the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have been adapting and devising regulations to ensure they are safe to use.

The company has agreed with EASA and the CAA to concurrently validate certification of the VX4. This means that the VX4 will be simultaneously certified by the CAA and EASA, paving the way for the company to operate the aircraft in the UK and Europe from 2025.

Vertical is also working with other national aviation authorities in Japan, Brazil and Singapore to arrange similar certification validations. The company is also seeking validation for the VX4 by the FAA.

 The company has also submitted its certification basis proposal, based on EASA’s established SC-VTOL certification basis and is progressing its Design Organisation Approval (DOA) with the CAA. A DOA must be granted for a company to hold a type certificate and shows it has the competencies necessary to design a type of aircraft.

Vertical’s DOA, when granted, will cover the full scope required to hold a type Certificate for a commercial passenger carrying winged eVTOL. Vertical expects to receive DOA from the CAA later this year.

Vertical has recently appointed Trevor Woods as its director of regulatory affairs. Woods, a  former European Union Aviation Safety Agency said, “I am delighted to join Vertical, the eVTOL manufacturer that, I believe, has the edge on its competitors.

“Its considerable in-house engineering expertise matched with its unrivalled industrial partnerships from proven tier-one aerospace suppliers such as Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, GKN and Leonardo lend significant momentum to its certification efforts. I, myself, am looking forward to flying in the VX4 at the earliest opportunity.”

Paul Harper, Head of Certification at Vertical, said “To have someone with Trevor’s experience join the team is a boost for us and our certification efforts. We are pleased with the status of our certification program and look forward to reaching a number of meaningful milestones in our activity over the coming months, including the launch of our test flight campaign.”

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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