Vertical Aerospace has added its VX4 prototype to the list of eVTOL aircraft which have achieved flight this past week. The announcement comes with the receipt of its Permit to Fly from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and becomes the first British aerospace company to achieve first flight of an aircraft in 20 years.

The moment marked a significant milestone as Vertical continues to progress successfully through its intensive flight test program. The program is expected to continue for several months, completing different stages which will involve reaching higher altitudes and speeds and demonstrating the transition from vertical to forward flight.

Above: Vertical Aerospace’s plan for its flight test program. The VX4 will next conduct low speed flight and continue on with envelope expansion

Vertical Aerospace Chief Test Pilot, Justin Paines, said: “This test represented the culmination of many months preparation by a huge team, and being at the controls of the VX4 for the first time was an honor and a proud moment for us all.”

The company, unlike many of its competitors, decided to conduct its first flight tests with a pilot on board to prove it could meet the most stringent safety standards. To do this, Vertical Aerospace received regulatory approval in the form of a “Permit to Fly” from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), after demonstrating the test could be conducted safely.

The permit and the positive results of these early tests allow the teams at Vertical Aerospace to progress confidently on their mission to certify the VX4 by 2025. The aircraft is designed to carry a pilot plus four passengers, and is expected to have a range of up to 100 miles with the ability to cruise at speeds of around 150 miles per hour and a top speed of 200 miles per hour.

The company has already received more than 1,400 conditional pre-orders from some of the world’s leading airlines, operators, lessors and tourist groups including Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Japan Airlines and Air Asia. Especially notabl, Vertical recently announced that American Airlines has conditionally committed to make a pre-payment for its first 50 deliveries of the VX4, a strong vote of confidence from the airline industry.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder & CEO, Vertical, said “This moment represents a small step for Vertical Aerospace, but it’s a giant leap forward for British aviation. For more than 100 years the UK has been a global leader in aviation and today, in the 21st century, Britain is leading the world in the development of zero carbon aircraft.”

Why it matters: With its impressive orderbook and strong financial backing, Vertical’s VX4 may be a big win for the aerial mobility space. By transitioning into the flight test stage of development, Vertical becomes much closer to realizing its eVTOL dreams and goal to certify by 2025.

Posted by Ross Piscoran