Bristol, UK-based startup Vertical Aerospace has shown off the designs of the production version of its first air taxi.
The VA-1X, which will have a cruise speed of 150mph (240km/h), a range of 100 miles (160km) and will be able to seat four passengers and the pilot is planned to start flying commercially in 2024.
The eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft has a 15m wingspan and is 13m long, meaning it can take off and land from existing helipads and has a 450kg payload capacity. It is powered by Lithium-ion batteries and uses a distributed fan propulsion system which according to Vertical enables it to be 30 times quieter than a helicopter.
Production of the VA-1X is expected to begin soon. Vertical Aerospace, which was founded in 2016, has so far flown two prototypes for flight testing and development. The second most recent was a full-size prototype called Seraph, which weighs 1000kg can carry loads of up to 250kg and reached speeds of up to 50mph (80km/h) during flight tests.
Vertical Aerospace is working closely with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority for testing and certification of the VA-1X. More flight testing is planned for next year and subsequent years from its Bristol base, followed by certification in 2024.
The VA-1X is being developed by several engineers who formerly worked in the Formula One racing sector and will leverage knowledge about lightweight materials and powertrain technology from race cars in its design. The company also has a site in Oxfordshire, where several F1 race teams are located.
The company recently announced that Honeywell will supply its flight controls and flight deck technologies for the VA-1X and appointed former Boeing lead flight test engineer Dean Moore to lead the flight test campaign for the aircraft.
Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace said, “With the launch of the VA-1X, we’re proud to be taking eVTOL one step closer to mass-market adoption, and supporting the next era of aviation. At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet – with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realised in under five years.”
Read more about Vertical Aerospace’s approach to test and certification here.