Vertical Aerospace progresses VX4 eVTOL aircraft certification


The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has awarded Vertical Aerospace Design Organisation Approval, a vital step in certifying the company’s VX4 eVTOL aircraft.

The Design Organisation Approval (DOA) means the regulator is satisfied that Vertical has the capability to design a safe and reliable aircraft. DOA is needed before an OEM can begin Type Certification of an aircraft.

Vertical’s DOA for its eVTOL aircraft is the first of its kind the CAA has awarded and authorizes the company to conduct design activities and issue design approvals. Gaining DOA involves a CAA assessment of Vertical’s procedures, its quality management system, the competence of its technical workforce and its facilities and equipment.

The VX4 is a four-passenger, 100 mile (160km) range, piloted eVTOL aircraft.

A prototype VX4 first flew with a tether last September. According to Vertical the current flight test program will see the demonstrator reach higher altitudes and speeds, as well as demonstrate the transition from vertical to horizontal flight for the first time.

Vertical is targeting 2025 for the VX4’s entry-into-service.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical’s founder and CEO said, “Vertical is the first British electric aircraft company in history to receive a DOA from the UK aviation regulator.

“This approval is a critical step forward in our mission to decarbonize air travel and bring the UK’s first electric aircraft to market.”

VX4 eVTOL in hangar

Vertical Aerospace is partnering with several suppliers such as Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Leonardo and GKN to make the VX4 (Image: Adam Gasson / Vertical Aerospace)

Last month the CAA announced it will adopt Europe-wide regulator EASA’s Means of Compliance to SC-VTOL (Special Condition Vertical Take-off and Landing). This means UK and EU companies will develop eVTOL aircraft to the same standards for certification and has provided what Vertical called “essential regulatory clarity”.

Vertical has also started certifying the VX4 in Japan, following the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau’s (JCAB) acceptance of the VX4’s validation program. The company has 100 VX4 pre-orders with Japan Airlines via leasing firm Avolon, and 200 with Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation.

As well as Type Certification with the CAA and concurrent validations with EASA and the USA’s FAA, Vertical said it is also in discussions with the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil on the VX4’s future validation program.

Paul Harper, Vertical’s head of certification, said “Receiving a DOA from the CAA is a huge testament to our team and the hard work we are doing to ensure safety is at the core of the VX4. It represents a significant milestone on our journey to Type Certification and we would like to thank the CAA for their guidance and continued support.

I believe that in formally working with JCAB, as the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is committed to certifying with, we are on track for establishing the most detailed understanding of global regulators’ needs and differences for eVTOLs. This will give us a competitive edge in bringing the VX4 into service.”

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About Author


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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