Vertical Aerospace Group, a leading UK-based company developing electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has solidified itself as a legitimate player after securing pre-orders and investment backing from big names including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Rolls-Royce, Avolon, and Honeywell.
Vertical Aerospace announced last week it intended to go public through a $US2.2 billion SPAC deal, and that it had received investment from Microsoft’s M12, American Airlines, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, Rocket Internet, and 40 North.
On top of that, Vertical Aerospace also said it had received up to 1,000 aircraft pre-orders with launch customers American Airlines and Avolon, as well as pre-order options for Virgin Atlantic. Together, these pre-orders are valued at up to $US4 billion.
“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,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO and Founder.
“Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero carbon aircraft that most people will fly on.
The stock exchange listing will occur through a merger with Broadstone Acquisition, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, an increasingly common method for burgeoning new-mobility companies to go public. The transaction is expected to be worth $US2.2 billion and will list the company on the New York Stock Exchange.
Backing the company’s decision to go public are a raft of investments from American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, which have invested in a private investment in public equity, or PIPE, deal – all of whom will also be involved as strategic partners with Vertical Aerospace.
Also investing in the company are Microsoft’s venture capital subsidiary M12, 40 North, and Rocket Internet.
On the orders, American Airlines has agreed to pre-order (subject to certain conditions and milestones) up to 250 aircraft, with an option to order an additional 100 aircraft. Avolon has agreed to pre-order up to 310 aircraft with an option for a further 190. Virgin Atlantic has an option to purchase between 50 and 150 aircraft.
“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,” said Derek Kerr, Chief Financial Officer, of American Airlines.
Dómhnal Slattery, CEO of Avolon, the world’s second largest aircraft lessor, said he expected, before the end of this decade, to have “zero emission urban air mobility, enabled by eVTOLs, to play an increasingly important role in the global commercial aviation market.”
Founded in 2016, Vertical Aerospace is targeting the design and development of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft which will make “air travel personal, on-demand and carbon-free”
The VA-X4 will be able to travel at speeds of over 320km/h (200m/h) and produce zero emissions and at a low cost per passenger mile. Moreover, Vertical Aerospace expects the VA-X4 to be certified to the same standards as large commercial airliners, making it “100x safer than a helicopter.”
Able to carry 5 people – including 1 pilot and 4 passengers – the VA-X4 has a range of over 160-kilometres (100-miles). Vertical Aerospace also hopes that, in addition to serving as a passenger taxi, the VA-X4 might be able to also act as a medivac or cargo aircraft,