The VX4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, from British startup Vertical Aerospace, completed its first free flight this week. The unmanned test was carried out from Cotswold airport, in England, where the company’s development center is located.
This was the first sortie of the VX4 untethered from the ground and in the open air. Previously, in September 2022, the aircraft took off, but attached to a cable on the floor and inside the hangar for safety reasons.
According to the manufacturer, the eVTOL powered only by the energy of its batteries reached 40 kts (75 km/h) in its first full flight.
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“Our full-scale electric aircraft has successfully flown at Cotswold Airport, hitting 40kts in remotely-piloted thrustborne test flights,” Vertical Aerospace said.
The company says it is planning more flight tests with the VX4 in the coming months, including the first tests with a pilot on board the aircraft – the tests with the eVTOL conducted so far are piloted remotely.
More than 1,400 pre-orders
Powered by eight electric motors mounted on movable nacelles, the VX4 is designed to carry one pilot and four passengers. According to the company, the urban air mobility vehicle will have a range of up to 160 km flying at a cruising speed of 240 km/h (and a maximum of 320 km/h).
Among the various “flying taxi” projects underway around the world, the VX4 is one of the most anticipated models on the market. Vertical Aerospace has received more than 1,400 pre-orders for the device from airlines, operators, rental companies and tour groups.
Among the main customers are Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Asia and Gol.
Previously scheduled for 2025, the certification of the VX4 by the UK Aviation Authority was recently pushed to 2026, the year in which Vertical Aerospace is expected to start deliveries of the first eVTOLs.