In 2018, there’s been a lot of talk about flying cars being a future method of transport. A lot of companies are experimenting with the technology, but one British startup claims to be taking a more realistic approach. Vertical Aerospace have built and flown a fully electric vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) aircraft. The machine flew across Cotswold airport in Gloucestershire as part of a successful test flight.
Based on the technology, Vertical Aerospace are aiming to launch an ‘air taxi’ service by 2022. They plan to use qualified pilots in order to comply with existing aviation regulations. The realistic approach comes from delivering a reliable fixed-wing aircraft that is based on existing machinery, rather than promising an unquantifiable experience.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace founder, said “we are investing in all the technology evolution taking place in aerospace, but we are trying to apply that to something that’s real world and is possible to execute four years out.”
As a former Formula 1 racing team owner, Fitzpatrick has been inspired by techniques he learned on the track. He’s also motivated by lowering air pollution and traffic congestion. “We’ve learned a lot from Formula 1, both in terms of technology and pace of development. 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 aircrafts for the 21st century.”
Vertical Aerospace contains 28 technical experts from Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Martin Jetpack, GE and Airbus. Everyone has pooled their knowledge to develop an aircraft that meets safety regulations. The company’s first aircraft was granted flight permission by the Civil Aviation Authority. Aerospace is already working with the European Aviation Safety Agency in order to get flight certification for the next model. Fitzpatrick added “regulation evolves along with new technology but it takes time. We are working alongside regulators throughout that process.”
There’s no shortage of companies who are testing flying taxis. But few have been comfortable with a test flight involving a human pilot in the cockpit. Perhaps Vertical Aerospace’s approach will help it be at the forefront of the flying taxi frontier.