Vertical Aerospace CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick takes a photo on October 12, 2021 in London, England. Photo taken on October 12, 2021. Reuters / Hannah McKay
13 October 2021
LONDON (Reuters) – Tired of traffic? Imagine a world where a taxi descends skyward atop an office building, recharges, and departs anew.
This is the vision of Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace in the United Kingdom. Vision plans to raise $394 million in a merger with the New York-listed Blanc Check company, and says their plane will fly by mid-2020.
And he’s not alone. Among the world’s best-known engineers and airlines, Vertical plans to carry four passengers on a zero-emissions mini-aircraft for 120 miles (193 km) almost silently in the air. Some people believe so.
American Airlines, aircraft lender Eborone, engineers Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, and Microsoft’s M12 unit have invested in the merger and are expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Fitzpatrick, who founded the UK’s third-largest energy retailer, OVO Energy, said a vertical flight between London’s Heathrow Airport and Canary Wharf’s financial district takes 15 minutes and costs £50 ($68) per passenger. is spent. He said it would.
This prospect is drawing the attention of airlines. Over 1,000 VA-X4 aircraft have been pre-ordered by our customers. The interest in zero-emissions aircraft comes at a time when there is investor pressure on airlines to help decarbonize the sector and improve their environmental, social and governance scores.
“We’re about to sign the deal. We think the appetite and demand for airlines is very strong,” Fitzpatrick told Reuters.
The biggest challenge for the vertical is aircraft certification. Fitzpatrick says new funding for the merger is on track by the end of 2024.
Fitzpatrick first came up with the idea in 2015 in So Paulo, Brazil, when he spent hours sitting in 10 lanes of traffic.
He said there weren’t many competitors at the time, but today analysts estimate there are more than 100 companies working on rival Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (EVOTL) aircraft.
The VA-X4 is still under construction and will begin a test flight early next year. Fitzpatrick believes the vertical partnership will help it emerge as the winner.
Fitzpatrick Electric uses battery technology from the automotive industry to test and test propulsion units and motors, and there is “no doubt” that the VA-X4, backed by Honeywell Electronics, will fly.
Certification depends on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
“The procedure to certify an aircraft is known. The technology is new, but the steps you need to take are relatively similar to those on other aircraft,” said Fitz, who hired senior engineers from both Airbus and Rolls-Royce. says Patrick.
Fitzpatrick is confident that developing new modes of transportation includes other challenges, such as infrastructure.
“We’re already talking to Heathrow Airport, for example,” he said, pointing out an office window to a potential Skyport location on the roof.
When it comes to forcing passengers, that’s where airlines come in.
“I think branding with a trusted airline really helps travelers adopt new technologies,” he said.
(Reporting by Sarah Young, edited by Emeria Sithole-Mataris)