First air taxi prototype lifts off in the UK
Bristol-based startup Vertical Aerospace has become the first company in the UK to build and test an electric vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft, designed to work as an ‘air taxi’ to revolutionise short-haul flying.
Vertical Aerospace’s team of engineers has built a full scale flight-certified aircraft made from carbon fibre. The battery-powered aircraft takes off vertically like a helicopter, then flies similarly to a plane. The vertical launch means the eVTOL can fly without a long runway – an important feature should plans for the service to become a challenger to the likes of Uber become a reality.
The prototype Vertical Aerospace aircraft can carry between 2 and 4 passengers and has a range of 93 miles, with a top speed of 186mph.
Who is Vertical Aerospace?
The company was founded by former OVO Energy CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2016. The rest of the team comprises engineers from Airbus, Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jet Pack, DarkTrace and General Electric.
The company explains their mission as follows: “Advances in technology have transformed many aspects of how we live, work and travel. Billions of people fly every year, fly regularly and the busiest air routes in the world are short-haul. But the way we fly hasn’t evolved to address these changes: it’s the same model whether we’re flying 500 miles or 5000. As a result, end-to-end journeys are taking longer, infrastructure is under pressure and air travel is increasingly disastrous for the environment.
“Our intercity air taxi services will give people the freedom to fly from their local neighbourhood directly to their destination. They will help to decarbonise air travel. We have built the UK’s first full scale eVTOL aircraft: the first step on our mission to make air travel personal, on demand and carbon-free.”
When will flying taxis become a reality?
We are not quite living in the future science fiction predicted just yet, as Vertical Aerospace still has a lot of testing to complete before its flying taxis enter the market. CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick has outlined plans to provide piloted, commercial flights of between 100km to 150km, within 4 years. That’s the distance from London to Bristol or Glasgow to Aberdeen.
What it will cost to use this ‘flying taxi’ isn’t known yet, nor is when fully on-demand automated flights will be available.
Can you see this becoming a reality? Let us know in the comments below