A Virgin Atlantic fleet of flying cars, which could cut short-haul travel time by more than two-thirds, is slated to roll out in the UK by 2024.
Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol-based company, is currently working on a £ 2.8 billion ($ 4 billion) project to build a fleet of electrically powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic will purchase up to 150 of the VA-X4 aircraft to provide a Virgin Atlantic-branded short-haul network in some of the UK’s busiest cities.
The “almost noiseless” aircraft – 100 times quieter than a helicopter – will have zero CO2 emissions and a range of more than 100 miles.
Each boat will carry a pilot and four passengers who are seated in a luxurious interior with padded seats, headrests, seat belts and plenty of legroom.
According to Vertical Aerospace, air travel is likely to cost travelers between £ 5 and £ 10 per mile traveled – between that of a helicopter and a private car – which they can book through an app.
Commercial operation is planned for 2024 once certification by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) takes place.
Vertical Aerospace, headed by a Northern Irish multimillionaire and Formula 1 enthusiast, is also expected to partner with American Airlines on air passengers in the United States.
Traveling by boat will likely cost travelers between £ 5 and £ 10 per mile traveled – between a helicopter and a private car. Conceptual image showing a Virgin brand aircraft, built by Vertical Aerospace, flying over London
Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon have invested a total of £ 2.8 billion in the project.
Microsoft’s M12, Honeywell and Rolls-Royce as well as American Airlines and Avolon are all investing in PIPE (Private Investment in Public Equity).
The project is expected to result in a total fleet of 1,000 aircraft built by Vertical Aerospace.
“With innovation and sustainability leadership firmly in our DNA, we are excited to partner with Vertical Aerospace to pioneer sustainable, zero-emission aviation in the UK,” said Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic.
The aircraft would potentially take off and land at aerodromes on the outskirts or even landing pads on tall buildings
THE VA-1X: THE STATS
Span: 49 feet (15 meters)
Length: 43 feet (13 meters)
Maximum payload: 992 lbs (450 kg)
Capacity: 1 pilot and 4 passengers
Energy source: Lithium-ion batteries
Noise: 100x less than a helicopter
Commercial flights begin: 2024
‘We pride ourselves on building lasting strategic partnerships and look forward to working with Vertical on its mission to bring eVTOL travel to the UK.’
Vertical Aerospace was founded in 2016 and has been prototyping for years, but a new image of the company shows what the Virgin brand vehicles will look like.
The VA-X4 has four tiltable, advanced rotors in the front and stowable rotors in the rear that can reach speeds of over 200 mph.
VA-X4, which will be certified to the same safety standards as commercial airliners, will “revolutionize urban mobility and electrify air travel,” said Virgin.
Virgin Atlantic and Vertical Aerospace will work together to explore a joint venture to enable passenger operations in the UK.
Vertical Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic will seek to establish short-haul electric connections for electric aircraft between UK cities and airport hubs, starting with London Heathrow, Manchester and London Gatwick.
For example, reducing the 56 mile drive from Cambridge to London Heathrow to just 22 minutes compared to an hour and 30 minute drive.
The aircraft took off and landed at airfields on the outskirts or even on landing pads on tall buildings.
With 37 cities with more than 100,000 residents within 160 kilometers of London Heathrow Airport, the VA-X4 could provide short-haul transfers for 7.7 million customers outside London for flights to and from the UK’s main airport.
A full-size prototype of the VA-X4 is currently being produced with the kind permission of Vertical Aerospace, and the first test flight is scheduled for later this year.
The VA-X4 has four tiltable, advanced rotors in the front and stowable rotors in the rear that can reach speeds of over 200 mph. Upon launch, the aircraft will bear the trademark of Virgin Atlantic in the UK and American Airlines in the US
A full-size prototype of the VA-X4 is currently in production and the first test flight is scheduled for the end of this year.
Vertical Aerospace, founded by energy tech entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick, has entered into a business combination agreement with Broadstone Acquisition Corp., a special-purpose acquisition company.
The transaction will make Vertical a publicly traded company, that is, it will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The merger is expected to be completed in the second half of 2021.
Vertical Aerospace concept photos show the aircraft’s sleek interior, complete with padded sidewalls and seat belts. Each vehicle will carry four passengers plus one pilot
“This is the most exciting time in aviation in nearly a century – electrification will change flying in the 21st century just as the jet engine changed 70 years ago,” said Fitzpatrick.
‘Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aerospace companies in the world and together we can achieve our goal of making the VA-X4 the first carbon-free aircraft that most people will fly.
“The UK is already a world leader in aerospace innovation and we believe Vertical Aerospace will be the UK master engineer to drive the aerospace industry forward.”
Vertical Aerospace expects the VA-1X to begin commercial flights in 2024 – at faster speeds than cars whiz directly above ground traffic
WHAT IS THE ELECTRIC POWERED TAXI FROM VERTICAL AEROSPACE?
According to Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder of Bristol-based airline Vertical Aerospace, within four years the intercity air taxi service could offer short-haul intercity flights carrying multiple passengers in piloted aircraft.
Since its inception in 2016, the company has hired 28 seasoned aerospace and engineering professionals from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack and General Electric.
The company conducted a test flight of an unmanned vertical take-off prototype for a single passenger at a Gloucestershire airport in June.
This happened after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) granted permission to fly.
The company is the first in the UK to test electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles that could potentially revolutionize short-haul flying.
The electrically powered aircraft could be used in some of the most congested flight corridors in the world because it does not require a runway.
The black passenger cabin is now preparing to produce a rigid, piloted version of its VTOL aircraft that can carry multiple passengers.
It has a range of 100 miles with a top speed of over 200 mph. It will work with regulators to obtain certification in the first phase of the air taxi project by 2022, company officials said.