Developer of electric takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxis, Vertical Aerospace has completed the first test flight of its VX4 prototype in what it says was the first trial of a new UK aircraft in two decades.
Vertical said the tethered hover flight of its VX4 eVTOL took place over the weekend, following its previous certification by UK regulator Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) permitting testing. The company says the trial was the first in the long process of attaining full operational certification by its target date of 2025, which will entail sequential stages operating the craft at higher altitudes, increased, speeds, and performing transitions from vertical to horizontal forward flight.
Earlier this year Vertical announced it would pursue certification of the VX4 concurrently in the UK and European Union, one of the few eVTOL developers to seek plane authorization from two separate regulation bodies at once.
Though the VX4’s maiden flight was conducted in tethered conditions for security purposes, Vertical’s chief test pilot was inside the eVTOL and working the controls under terms of the CAA authorization to do so.
The company’s testing of its new aircraft – the first in the country in 20 years, it says – is being backed by the UK government’s Aerospace Technology Institute, a structure tasked with promoting transformative aerial assets.
“This moment represents a small step for Vertical Aerospace, but it’s a giant leap forward for British aviation,” said Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick. “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.”
Vertical’s VX4 is designed as a piloted eVTOL carrying up to four passengers, and flying up to 100 miles at maximum speeds of 200 mph.
The company boasts what it calls a sector leading pre-order book of over 1,400 of the aircraft – worth over $5 billion – from clients including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, Iberojet, Japan Airlines (JAL), AirAsia, and others.