An all-electric air taxi; Vertical Aerospace’s concept VA-1X

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Vertical Aerospace VAX1
Representational Image

UK-based aerospace manufacturer Vertical Aerospace which is pioneering in affordable electric aviation has unveiled its plans for a revolutionary ‘flying taxi’, the VA-1X

VA-1X is set to become the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The aircraft which can carry up to five people (four passengers and a pilot) is expected to start commercial flights in 2024 with manufacturing taking place in the UK

Super speed and ease of travel

VA-1X will boast of a cruise speed of 150 mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles, meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train.

The aircraft will bypass road congestion and will be certified to the same safety standards as commercial airlines. Its eVTOL technology ensures the VA-1X will be completely emission-free.

Vertical Aerospace VAX1
Vertical Aerospace VAX1 PreViz

Vertical Aerospace’s ultimate aim is to make the VA-1X significantly cheaper than helicopter flights, removing one of the major barriers to environmentally friendly air travel. Prices for air taxi services are initially expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car and will decrease as adoption grows.

World-class companies such as Honeywell are participating in the initiative which is supplying flight controls and control laws and has signed a letter of intent to provide a vehicle management system for the prototype.

Additional features

  • Reduced noise pollution – 30x quieter than a helicopter thanks to the VA-1X’s distributed propulsion system
  • Wingspan: 15 meters
  • Length: 13 meters
  • Vertical take-off and landing
  • Can take-off and land from existing helipads
  • Fly-by-wire flight control systems make aircraft simple to fly, while its simple design optimizes safety
  • Efficient aerodynamics enables it to fly with far less energy and power than a helicopter
  • Payload capacity: 450kg
  • EASA-certified design
  • Power source: Lithium-ion batteries.

The autonomous aircraft market is predicted to reach $1.5 trillion by 2040 according to findings from Morgan Stanley Research. Since its creation in 2016 by OVO Founder, Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace has quickly established itself as a leader in eVTOL technology.

It is one of only seven companies in the world to have successfully flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes, undertaking two trials with UK Civil Aviation Authority approval, and is the first company to introduce F1 technology to eVTOL aircraft.

“eVTOL technology will revolutionize 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. At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet – with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realized in under five years.”

“We are proud to be contributing to Vertical Aerospace’s aircraft. The VA-1X is a beautiful vehicle and an important technical milestone for the urban air mobility industry,” said Stephane Fymat, Honeywell’s vice president and general manager of urban air mobility and unmanned aerial systems. “Honeywell is honored to be working with Vertical to enable this major advancement with our compact fly-by-wire and UAM-optimized flight deck technologies.”