Vertical Aerospace completes maiden flight test

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UK eVTOL start up Vertical Aerospace has released a video showing the first flight of its full-scale prototype aircraft.

The video shows the electric aircraft taking off from Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire in June. Since then, the company has taken a further 12 test flights.

Whilst the exact specs of the aircraft were not disclosed, the company’s website claims the aircraft weighs around 750kg and uses full-electric propulsion to drive its four rotors at a top speed of almost 200mph.

Vertical Aerospace hopes to submit the vehicle for full certification with EASA and bring the aircraft to the market by 2022.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace’s founder and CEO, cites traffic congestion and aerospace pollution from short-haul flights as the driving forces behind creating the eVTOL.

Whilst many VTOL start-ups are researching and developing new technologies to make their aircraft possible, Vertical Aerospace is taking a grounded approach to air-taxi development, using existing technology to launch the aircraft and improving it down the line.

Unlike many air-taxi projects, Vertical Aerospace is not utilising autonomous flight for the VTOL, instead opting for a piloted flight system that could be transformed into being autonomous later.

The aircraft is targeted at the short-haul flight market – which is one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in the UK – and is offering a carbon-free alternative for city-to-city transport.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Passenger numbers for short-haul flights have exploded in recent years but, as a result, aviation is now a major contributor to climate change and local air pollution.”

“We are not waiting for huge changes in existing regulations.”

The focus on sustainability makes sense as Fitzpatrick is the CEO of OVO Energy, an energy supplier that buys and sells renewable energy services to 830,000 customers across the UK.

He launched Vertical Aerospace in 2016 and has since hired 28 employees, including previous employees of Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and GE.