Aviation News

American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic partner with Vertical Aerospace for eVTOL aircrafts

United States-based American Airlines and United Kingdom-based Virgin Atlantic have invested and partnered with Vertical Aerospace, a leading UK-headquartered engineering and aeronautical business developing (electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) aircraft.

American Airlines

American Airlines, as part of its ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability, has announced that it will invest in Vertical Aerospace.

As part of its investment in Vertical, American has agreed to pre-order, subject to certain future agreed upon milestones and other terms, up to 250 aircraft, representing a potential pre-order commitment of $1 billion, and an option to order an additional 100 aircraft.

Derek Kerr, Chief Financial Officer, American Airlines, said:

Emerging technologies are critical in the race to reduce carbon emissions and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft. For years, American has led the industry in investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Today’s partnership is another example of that commitment, and an investment in the future of air mobility. We are excited about the prospect of what this could mean for our customers, and our company.

The airline also expects to make a $25 million investment in Vertical through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive and Founder, Vertical Aerospace, said:

This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. As we all work towards a future beyond fossil fuels, we are delighted to be partnering with American Airlines. We share their passion for innovation and excellence and believe that by working together we will help make carbon free flight a reality for millions of passengers.

Virgin Atlantic

Vertical’s partnership with Virgin Atlantic includes an option for the airline to purchase up to 150 eVTOL aircrafts. Virgin Atlantic and Vertical Aerospace will be working together to explore a Joint Venture to deliver next generation eVTOL passenger operations in the UK. Both of them will seek to establish short haul, electric aircraft connectivity between UK cities and airport hubs starting with London Heathrow, Manchester and London Gatwick.

Virgin Atlantic will work with Vertical to explore a joint venture. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic, said:

With innovation and sustainability leadership firmly in our DNA, we are excited to be partnering with Vertical Aerospace to pioneer sustainable and zero emissions air travel in the UK. We pride ourselves on building enduring strategic partnerships and are thrilled to be working alongside Vertical in its mission to bring eVTOL travel to the UK. Our partnership includes an option for Virgin Atlantic to acquire up to 150 eVTOL VA-X4 aircraft and exploration of a Joint Venture to bring short haul, electric vehicle connectivity to cities and our UK airport hubs, starting with London Heathrow as well as Manchester and London Gatwick. Combining the design, engineering and manufacturing expertise of Vertical with the award-winning customer experience and operational excellence of Virgin Atlantic.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and Founder, Vertical Aerospace, said:

This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. By bringing together two entrepreneurial organisations who share the same passion for innovation and best in class partnerships, we can revolutionise urban mobility in the UK and electrify air travel. We look forward to working closely with Virgin Atlantic and completely changing how people think about flying through the skies.

What are VA-X4 aircrafts that Vertical is developing?

The fully-electric VA-X4 is a zero emissions, near silent aircraft with a range of over 100 miles and it will carry four passengers in addition to a pilot. It can fly at speed up to 200 miles per hour. The VA-X4 has four tilting advanced rotors at the front and stowable rotors at the rear, and is set to revolutionise urban mobility and electrify air travel, with certification to the same safety standards as commercial airliners.

VA-X4. Photo: American Airlines

These aircraft could potentially transport customers quickly around urban city centers and to airports. Furthermore, Vertical plans to conduct its 1st test flight of the VA-X4 later this year, with certification of the aircraft as early as 2024.

Virgin Atlantic says that with the help of this, it can reduce the 56-mile journey from Cambridge to London Heathrow to just 22 minutes, in comparison to a 1 hour 30 minutes drive by road. Additionally, the airline says that there are 37 towns and cities with populations over 100,000 within 100 miles of London Heathrow Airport. This means that the VA-X4 offers huge potential to support zero emissions short haul transfers for 7.7 million customers outside of London, for flights to and from the UK’s main hub airport.

More detailed information about the VA-X4 is available here.

Recently, United Airlines made headlines when it signed an agreement to buy aircrafts from Boom Supersonic, hoping to bring back supersonic travel.

Meanwhile, American Airlines recently announced 14 new routes from Austin, Texas and also announced resumption of flights to New Zealand.

Featured image by American Airlines

What do you think of American’s and Virgin Atlantic’s plans for eVTOL aircrafts? Let me know in the comments section below.

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