Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol-based aerospace manufacturer, has unveilled its pioneering ‘flying taxi’ design.
Named VA-1X, the flying taxi will be the first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
The company has said that commercial flights could begin in 2024, with flight testing due to take place in 2021.Vertical Aerospace being one of only a few companies to have flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes.
eVTOL technology has captured the attention of the automotive and aerospace industries for several years now, with several companies moving closer to making flying taxis a reality. For example, last month Airbus’ CityAirbus eVTOL completed its first public flight.
According to Morgan Stanley Research the autonomous aircraft market could reach $1.5tn by 2040.
VA-1X will be capable of carrying up to five passengers including a pilot, and will be capable of speeds of 150mph with a range of 100 miles. The vehicle will also be “completely emission-free”.
The aircraft could play a role in reducing road congestion and better connecting cities in the UK. Vertical Aerospace said that VA-1X could travel between London and Brighton in as little as half an hour, compared with two hours by road.
The issue of cost has been one of the barriers to adoption of this technology, and Vertical Aerospace said that a flight on VA-1X will initially be somewhere between the cost of a helicopter flight and a private car journey. This is expected to reduce as adoption increases.
Aerospace conglomerate Honeywell will be involved in the project, and is due to supply the flight controls and control laws. The company has also signed a letter of intent to provide a vehicle management system for the VA-1X prototype.
“eVTOL technology will revolutionise travel, combining the safety of commercial airlines with the disruptive environmental and cost benefits of the electrification of flight” said Michael Cervenka, CEO, Vertical Aerospace.
“With the launch of the VA-1X, we’re proud to be taking eVTOL one step closer to mass-market adoption, and supporting the next era of aviation. At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet – with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realised in under five years.”