Aircraft

Electric air taxi prototype makes flight debut

Electric air taxi prototype ma...
The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL prototype took to the air above Cotswold Airport in June 2018
The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL prototype took to the air above Cotswold Airport in June 2018
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Vertical Aerospace plans to have the first eVTOL aircraft providing an intercity air taxi service within the next four years
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Vertical Aerospace plans to have the first eVTOL aircraft providing an intercity air taxi service within the next four years
The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL prototype took to the air above Cotswold Airport in June 2018
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The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL prototype took to the air above Cotswold Airport in June 2018
The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL demonstrator weight 750 kg
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The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL demonstrator weight 750 kg
Vertical Aerospace is initially aiming for a range of up to 140 miles per charge of the eVTOL's batteries
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Vertical Aerospace is initially aiming for a range of up to 140 miles per charge of the eVTOL's batteries
The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air
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The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air
Vertical Aerospace's mission is to revolutionize how people fly by making air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free
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Vertical Aerospace's mission is to revolutionize how people fly by making air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free
The focus of rolling out the eVTOL prototype was not range and speed, but to prove the concept
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The focus of rolling out the eVTOL prototype was not range and speed, but to prove the concept
Vertical Aerospace plans to get air taxi pilots flying electric VTOL aircraft on short hops by 2022
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Vertical Aerospace plans to get air taxi pilots flying electric VTOL aircraft on short hops by 2022
Autonomous aspects to the eVTOL design are being considered by Vertical Aerospace
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Autonomous aspects to the eVTOL design are being considered by Vertical Aerospace
The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air
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The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air

Vertical Aerospace operating out of Bristol, UK, aims to bring on demand, emissions-free intercity air taxi services to the UK skies within four years. The company has nailed the first step in its bold plan by building and flying a fully electric vertical take off and landing aircraft recently.

Vertical Aerospace was founded by OVO Energy's Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2016, and now has a core of 28 engineers and technicians recruited from the ranks of Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jet Pack, DarkTrace and General Electric. In the last 12 months, the company has put together a slick-looking full scale eVTOL demonstrator, secured test flight permission from the Civil Aviation Authority and got it airborne above Cotswold Airport in Kimble, Gloucestershire.

"We've learned a lot from Formula 1, both in terms of technology and pace of development," said Fitzpatrick. "The lightweight materials, aerodynamics and electrical systems developed through F1 are highly applicable to aircraft, much more so than to road transport. By putting those technologies in the hands of experienced aerospace engineers, we can build cutting edge aircraft for the 21st Century."

The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air
The eVTOL prototype has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air

Not too much has been revealed about the three-wheeled, battery-powered demonstrator, other than it weighs 750 kg (1,650 lb), has four three-blade rotors in a two-by-two configuration that lift it into the air and is currently reported capable of spending just 5 minutes aloft but can fly forward at up to 80 km/h (50 mph). However, the focus of rolling out the prototype was not range and speed, but to prove the full scale concept.

With the first remotely-piloted flight in the bag, the company is already working with the European Aviation Safety Agency to have its next model granted Type Certification as part of a broader plan to get air taxi pilots flying electric VTOL aircraft on short hops by 2022.

Meantime, Vertical Aerospace will continue to refine the technology to extend the range of the eVTOL, introduce autonomous aspects to the design and look to increase the services routes throughout the UK. Top speed of operational eVTOLs is expected to hover around the 200 mph (320 km/h) mark, with an initial range of between 100 and 140 miles (160 - 225 km) eventually inching up to make 500 miles per charge possible.

Vertical Aerospace's mission is to revolutionize how people fly by making air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free
Vertical Aerospace's mission is to revolutionize how people fly by making air travel personal, on-demand and carbon free

Of course, Vertical Aerospace is not the only company looking into the viability of short-haul air taxis, with Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Transcend Air Corporation being among numerous firms currently looking into providing such services. So it looks like the skies in our very near future will be quite literally abuzz with activity.

The short video below has more on the eVTOL project and test flight.

Source: Vertical Aerospace

Vertical Aerospace - Full scale eVTOL aircraft - 2018

11 comments
Leonard Foster Jr
Very clean functional design.
JaxCavalera
They need to consider mesh over the fans or i can imagine there will be quite a few passengers that will become amputees if not addressed in the final full scale design.
Derek Howe
JaxCavalera - That would slightly decrease its performance, not worth it. Eventually they could perhaps slap some motion sensors around it, so the blades will not spin on the ground if it detects someone.
Towerman
Nice Design, Would be nice to see the gear retract ! Perhaps in a future version These taxis WILL take over the world !! It's only a matter of time !
Towerman
Agree with Derek... And I really like this one
ei3io
No cruise efficeincy and total reliance on all the 1000s of moving parts working while it sucks massive energy during the entire trip as well as just to stay in one location. Where are the wings? Give it a light weight Rogallo that could extend and maybe not even need to retract PLUS it would give a broken parts life saving glide to horizontal skid landing vs the vertical crusher impact as its set up now.
Towerman
@ei3io Clearly uninformed 1000s of parts ? Nope this multirotor consists of merely just 4 rotors and likely just 2 bearings per motor, so 8 moving parts give or take, a flying vehicle with 1000s of parts is called a helicopter ;)
Kalavo
Here’s the Problem: They Fly. what does this mean? it means that it isn’t tethered or bound to a flight path, as a consequence there will never be a flying car, it’s a aircraft, because it flies under its own power and isn’t bound to a path or road physically. First and foremost is to bind either by magnets or tracks these levitating craft otherwise they are classified as an aircraft, and that’s a whole new set of rules.
Towerman
They fly yes, but entirely different and unique, i never did see multicopters as anything else than flying transport, they are definitely not "flying cars" They are much more and better than that !
warren52nz
I won't claim that the flying one is a model but in parts it looked much smaller the way it moved. And we never saw a person next to the flying one. I'm probably wrong but a bit suspicious.