Vertical Aerospace is gearing up to operate its electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft at Heathrow Airport by mid-2020s in an effort to give more people easy access to UK’s hub airport, and reduce congestion and emissions on local roads.
Chris Annetts, Chief Strategy Officer of Heathrow, said “We are delighted to be partnering with Vertical, a global champion in emissions-free aviation. This emerging technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution on local roads, while providing passengers with a best-in-class experience on the cutting edge of modern technology. We look forward to exploring the possibilities of zero-emissions flight together.”
At speeds of up to 200 mph, Vertical’s piloted eVTOL will be able to transport four passengers in near silence from Heathrow to the City of London in 12 minutes, with zero operating emissions and at a cost similar to a taxi. This new agreement comes as interest in the future of urban air mobility is growing, with major airlines already operating at Heathrow keen to see the technology develop. Virgin Atlantic has already announced a partnership for the UK launch of an eVTOL network with Vertical and conditional pre-order options for up to 150 VA-X4s.
Vertical’s top-tier global customers include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow Group, Iberojet and Marubeni Corporation. Through these relationships, Vertical believes that it has the largest conditional pre-order book in the eVTOL industry, of up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5.4bn. Vertical’s eVTOL aims to be an industry leader in safety, being on track to be certified to the highest global standards and matching the safety performance of airline passenger jets.
Meanwhile, Vertical has also made progress toward establishing electric flight infrastructure as well as securing investments to support certification and full production ramp up. Ferrovial, a leading global infrastructure operator, will play a key role in Vertical’s service development as it has committed to building 25 vertiports across the UK. The vertiports are expected to be integrated with other modes of transport to offer efficient travel and increase connectivity to cities and nearby regions; the network is expected to allow Vertical’s piloted four passenger aircraft, the VA-X4, to operate from these sites for the proposed launch of its UK services with Virgin Atlantic.
In Vertical’s latest funding campaign, Mudrick Capital and Kouros SA contributed a total of $205 million that will be applied toward manufacturing a certified vehicle by the middle of the decade with the intention of operating it via the aforementioned vertiport sites. Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder of Vertical, said “We are delighted to welcome Mudrick Capital and Kouros as new partners to Vertical Aerospace. Their investments are more expert validation of our technology and approach to the exciting future of zero emissions flight. We look forward to working together in the years to come to bring Urban Air Mobility to cities all over the world.”
Why it’s important: The agreement between Heathrow and Vertical is a significant milestone for Britain’s zero-emissions aviation industry. Both parties will work closely to explore how this new technology can fit into existing operations at the airport, build understanding of the regulatory changes that would be required, maximize potential job opportunities and minimize any potential impacts on communities surrounding the airport.
Source // Vertical Aerospace press release