London-based electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Vertical Aerospace has negotiated an arrangement with UK and European Union civil aviation authorities to pursue concurrent vehicle validation of its VX4 air taxis.
The company made the announcement amid what it called a series of advances in the long certification process, including recruitment of the former European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) certification director, Trevor Woods. He will now play a central role in Vertical structuring the standards it adopts to obtain craft validation of its eVTOL air taxis in a way that will satisfy both the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) and EASA.
What that means, Vertical says, is its certification and validation process will be pursued simultaneously in both regulatory jurisdictions. It’s expected the concurrent approach will facilitate the company’s plans to begin operating the VX4 eVTOL in air taxi service in both the UK and Europe starting 2025.
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The addition of ex-EASA veteran Woods is an extra hedge in that synchronized method of attaining craft validation across what Brexit made two entirely separate administrative, legal, and regulatory spheres.
“To have someone with Trevor’s experience join the team is a boost for us and our certification efforts,” said Paul Harper, Vertical’s head of certification. “We are pleased with the status of our certification program and look forward to reaching a number of meaningful milestones in our activity over the coming months, including the launch of our test flight campaign.”
The dual UK-EU certification objective represents a widening of a logic that initially voiced last March. That came in an announcement by the CAA and Federal Aviation Administration that they would work together in the goal of supporting nearing services of eVTOL air taxis and other next generation air craft, including coordination of vehicle certification criteria and procedures.
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That news has lifted hopes of companies developing electric aircraft through their operations both the US and UK – including Vertical and Joby – that vehicle approval in one nation will speed, or even coincide with certification in the other.
Vertical is now looking to extend that goal even beyond the US and EU. It has initiated workshops in key markets including Japan, Brazil, and Singapore to familiarize regulators with the VX4, and encourage common criteria in its certification process.
The Vertical eVTOL air taxi is designed fly up to 200 miles per hour over a maximum range of over 100 miles. The company says a rash of large purchases of the plane has increased the total value of its order book to over $2 billion. Clients include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Iberojet, Bristow Group, Marubeni, and leasing group Avolon.
Vertical has also partnered with Heathrow Airport to examine ways eVTOL air taxis can be integrated within the platform’s air space for service to and from central London.