Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol-based company developing affordable electric aviation solutions, has today announced plans for a flying taxi, the VA-1X.
Capable of carrying up to five people (four passengers and a pilot), the VA-1X is set to be the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and could start commercial flights as soon as 2024. Build will begin shortly, with manufacturing taking place in the UK.
The VA-1X is designed to be capable of cruise speeds of 150mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles, meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour. The aircraft will be certified to the same safety standards as commercial airlines while its eVTOL technology ensures the VA-1X will be emission-free.
“eVTOL technology will revolutionise travel, combining the safety of commercial airlines with the disruptive environmental and cost benefits of the electrification of flight” said Michael Cervenka, CEO, Vertical Aerospace. “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.”
Vertical Aerospace said its ultimate aim is to make the VA-1X significantly cheaper than helicopter flights, thereby removing one of the major barriers to environmentally-friendly air travel. According to the company, prices for air taxi services are initially expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car, and will decrease as adoption grows.
Honeywell is supplying flight controls and control laws, and has signed a letter of intent to provide a vehicle management system for the prototype, which will be powered by lithium-ion batteries and operate some 30 times quieter than a helicopter due to the VA-1X’s distributed propulsion system.
Additional features include a 15m wingspan, 13m in length, ensuring the aircraft can take off and land from existing helipads; fly-by-wire flight control systems to make aircraft simple to fly; efficient aerodynamics, enabling it to fly with less energy and power than a helicopter; payload capacity of 450kg; and an European Union Aviation Safety Agency-certified design.
“We are proud to be contributing to Vertical Aerospace’s aircraft,” added Stephane Fymat, Honeywell’s vice president and general manager of urban air mobility and unmanned aerial systems. “The VA-1X is a beautiful vehicle and an important technical milestone for the urban air mobility industry. Honeywell is honoured to be working with Vertical to enable this major advancement with our compact fly-by-wire and UAM-optimised flight deck technologies.”