Vertical Aerospace, a prevalent UK-based eVTOL developer, has just released its long-awaited new air taxi design. The company advertises that its new vehicle will be able to “reduce your journey time by over 80% and eliminate air pollution by flying above the traffic.”

According to Vertical Aerospace, the VA-1X will soon be taken through certification with EASA in Europe, and is on course to start commercial flights in 2024.

The VA-1X has been designed to be a high performing aircraft, able to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities. Capable of carrying up to five people, a pilot and four passengers, Vertical hopes for the VA-1X to be the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Build will begin shortly, with manufacturing taking place in the UK near Vertical’s headquarters in Bristol.  

With the redesign of its vehicle, Vertical has placed an emphasis on the principles of safety, experience, sustainability, noise reduction, and range. The new design is a substantial departure from Vertical’s previous design, the Seraph, which employed twelve overhead propellers in a multi-rotor fashion to lift a maximum of 550 lbs at speeds up to 50 mph. Shifting toward a far more efficient design with vectored thrust and numerous control surfaces, Vertical has chosen to undertake a more complicated project that will prove difficult to certify, but may have more transport applications than their previous aircraft design.

The VA-1X will feature a 150 mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles, meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train. It will be completely emissions-free, and certified to the same safety standards as traditional commercial jetliners. Vertical expects initial flight prices to fall somewhere in between a private car trip and a chartered helicopter flight.

Vertical Aerospace’s website elaborates on the features and specifications we can expect to see from the first build of the VA-1X.

The mission of Vertical’s air taxi is to connect entire regions as well as carrying out shorter missions across single cities. The VA-1X is optimized for longer-range flights to take full advantage of the tilt-rotor’s efficient cruise, and its design also fits the “common reference models” released by the Uber in 2017 to help manufacturers meet their ecosystem’s design requirements. However, the two have not made public any discussion on collaboration at this time. Head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, responded to the Twitter reveal with positive support, so the stage has been set for a potential partnership down the line as Vertical progresses with a physical manifestation of the aircraft.

Said Michael Cervenka, CEO, Vertical Aerospace:
“eVTOL technology will revolutionize travel, combining the safety of commercial airlines with the disruptive environmental and cost benefits of the electrification of flight. 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 realized in under five years.”

Why it’s important: With no physical prototype yet constructed, Vertical recognizes that it must move quickly to gain EASA type certification and production approval for the VA-1X in support of beginning commercial operations by 2024. To support this timeline, the company plans to forgo sub-scale prototyping and move straight to a full-scale build of the aircraft — with testing of individual systems, such as propellers. Fortunately, suppliers including Honeywell and Dassault Systems’ cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE have already been working with Vertical as its development program nears the manufacturing phase.

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Source // Vertical Aerospace; Aviation Today

Posted by George Gatsios

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