U.K. startup Vertical Aerospace said it is working to finish building its full-scale VX4 eVTOL prototype, with the goal of flying the aircraft this summer.
The company shared the news to investors on Friday, as well as filed its Form 20-F with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It’s the first official update to shareholders since Vertical became a publicly traded company in December after merging with Broadstone Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Vertical said it has conducted hundreds of simulated flights with the VX4, but has yet to start its flight test campaign — a target the company had previously planned to achieve in late 2021, later pushing it back to the first quarter of this year.
“With the VX4 full-scale prototype nearing its build completion, it will begin its test flight programme in summer 2022,” stated the shareholders’ letter.
When the VX4 eVTOL prototype is finished, it will be Vertical’s third full-scale demonstrator since 2018. The aircraft is a vector thrust, four-passenger piloted eVTOL, which the company said will incorporate existing, previously-certified technology where possible.
But some technology, such as its battery system and propellers, will be developed in-house to differentiate its aircraft and business model from its peers, the company reported.
Vertical said it believes this strategy is “critical to allow us to demonstrate the repeatability and reliability needed to de-risk certification further.”
Vertical said the VX4 prototype will represent the same scale and configuration as the aircraft model it plans to certify. It will include Honeywell’s fly-by-wire flight control system and avionics, as well as the eVTOL developer’s own proprietary battery system and propeller technology.
The letter to shareholders also reaffirmed the U.K. startup’s aim to receive concurrent type certification from both aviation authorities in the U.K. and Europe.
The company claims to have the largest pre-order book by value in the eVTOL industry, currently at up to 1,350 aircraft valued at $5.4 billion — all of which are conditional orders. If these deals come to fruition, Vertical’s eVTOL could be flying in various locations around the world.
As such, the company said it is working to get its upcoming certification validated by other aviation authorities, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration through the collaboration it has with the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority.
Vertical said it plans to launch aerial ridesharing services in the U.K. and Europe in 2025.