Vertical Aerospace Readies for Takeoff
There are approximately 200 enterprises worldwide working on developing the world’s first eVTOL. Only a fraction of those have prototypes – working prototypes – so far. Vertical Aerospace, based in Bristol, UK, is one of those organizations with something tangible and functional to demonstrate today.
To be sure, Vertical Aerospace’s current eVTOL, dubbed “Seraph,” has work to be done before it’s ready for commercial service. The company will begin the certification process in 2020 for its operational vehicle and has targeted 2023 to receive certification that it is flightworthy.
With funding from its founder, OVO Energy’s Stephen Fitzpatrick, the company and its partners (such as Honeywell), is working through the challenges of the new technologies it is pioneering, as well as public perception, noise acoustics, and how to bring costs down below those of the average helicopter (roughly $250,000 to $1.7MM) to make the vehicles widely available.
The 70 or so employees are building an eVTOL with a planned initial range of 100 miles and a goal of 500 miles. To push timeframes ahead, the company uses techniques from other disciplines, such as Formula One racing, as well as its partners.
The Seraph prototype recently demonstrated a test flight at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales hovering about 20 feet above the ground and carrying a payload of 550 lbs. (250 kg), the rough equivalent of a pilot and two passengers.
With cruising speeds anticipated at 125-150 mph, a trip from New York to Philadelphia (about 95 miles), for example, will take less than an hour.