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Compiled by the editorial staff of eVTOL.com

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Vertical Aerospace and Heathrow partner to explore eVTOL operations

U.K.-based eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace has announced a collaboration with London’s Heathrow Airport to explore how Vertical’s VA-X4 aircraft could operate from Heathrow by the mid-2020s. 

Vertical Aerospace VA-X4 eVTOL
Vertical Aerospace says its five-seat VA-X4 eVTOL air taxi will carry passengers at speeds of over 200 mph (320 km/h). Vertical Aerospace Image

The partners will study how Vertical’s electric air taxis can fit into existing operations at Heathrow, and identify the regulatory changes that would be required to accommodate them. Vertical and Heathrow said they aim to maximize potential job opportunities while minimizing any negative impacts on communities surrounding the airport. 

“This announcement marks the start of an exciting relationship that will help make eVTOLs flying from Heathrow by the mid-2020s a reality,” stated Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick, highlighting the company’s existing partnerships with airlines including American and Virgin Atlantic. American has conditionally agreed to order up to 250 VA-X4 aircraft with an option for an additional 100, while Virgin Atlantic has an option to purchase between 50 and 150 of the winged electric air taxis. 

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss described the partnership between Vertical Aerospace and Heathrow as “an exciting next step on the pathway to creating the infrastructure needed to support eVTOL operations at our Heathrow hub. We look forward to working closely with both Vertical and London Heathrow to transform the first and last 100-mile journey of passengers traveling through Heathrow.” 

The announcement comes a week after Vertical Aerospace — in collaboration with Heathrow, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Skyports, and NATS — released a white paper calling on the U.K. government to commit to enabling electric flight operations by 2025. 

Vertical Aerospace Heathrow Cambridge
Vertical Aerospace included this sample route between Heathrow and Cambridge in its recent white paper highlighting the benefits of advanced aerial mobility. Vertical Aerospace Image

The paper asks the U.K. Department for Transport and Civil Aviation Authority to establish a route to electric aircraft certification; reforms to airspace management, aviation security, and flight access for electric flight operations; and frameworks for certifying, regulating, and licensing vertiports, charging infrastructure, and pilots by 2024. 

Bristol-based Vertical also wants the government to incentivize and support the construction of electric aircraft assembly and gigafactories in U.K. regions in the same timeframe.

The white paper includes a number of sample routes where Vertical believes its VA-X4 could deliver substantial benefits. These include a direct flight between Heathrow and Cambridge that would take just half an hour in a VA-X4, compared to 90 minutes by ground taxi and 115 minutes by train. 

A trip between Heathrow and the City of London would take just 12 minutes, “with zero operating emissions and at a cost similar to a taxi,” Vertical claims. 

In releasing the white paper last week, Fitzpatrick said: “The U.K. has an opportunity to be at the forefront of electric flight and the clear benefits it will bring in improving connectivity, productivity, and creating highly-skilled jobs whilst lowering both congestion and carbon emissions. The U.K. needs to act now to grasp this prize.” 

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