Advanced Air Mobility News

Air Taxi Dream Takes Longer Than Vertical CEO Expected

Air Taxi Dream Takes Longer Than Vertical CEO Expected

Stephen Fitzpatrick, the founder and CEO of British eVTOL manufacturer Vertical Aerospace, said he expected electric aircraft to be flying sooner when he first entered the industry in 2017, without knowing anything about certification. 

“When we started Vertical Aerospace, we didn’t know about certification, we thought we will be flying in a few years,” he said at the Revolution.Aero conference in Dublin.

Delving into the origins of Vertical, Fitzpatrick said the idea to create an electric aircraft, namely the VX4 eVTOL, stemmed from his desire to see the travel sector decarbonize. 

He regarded electric power as the best route right now for Vertical, but outlined plans to potentially make a switch to hybrid and Sustainable Air Fuel (SAF) in the future. 

“I was really passionate and motivated by decarbonizing travel and it’s one of the hardest industries to decarbonize,” Fitzpatrick explained. 

“To begin with it’s going to be electric. I am a big believer in Sustainable Air Fuel (SAF) and hybrid, but I believe the battery power trend is the first step. I believed eVTOLs was the best application of this technology.”

Looking forward, he pinpointed two key hurdles that need to be cleared – safety standards and public acceptance – which will play a pivotal role in the adoption of electric aircraft down the line.

“There’s still a lot to overcome both from a regulatory and a passenger acceptance perspective. The biggest risk to our industry is a safety incident. There’s a reason air travel is the safest and it’s because we are very, very cautious,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Vertical’s VX4 is currently in development and last month, the Bristol-based company became the first eVTOL manufacturer to be granted a Design Organisation Approval (DOA) from the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), marking a step in the right direction in the firm’s bid to obtain Type Certification. 

The VX4 is a five-seater aircraft that can travel over 100 miles at a top speed of 200 mph. According to the company, it is also 100 times quieter than a helicopter when cruising or hovering. 

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