On August 26th, Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace presented the VA-1X, which they plan to be the world’s first certified eVTOL aircraft with a fixed wing. Manufacturing of the craft should commence soon in the UK, and the company hopes to see commercial flights starting in 2024. The VA-1X will carry a maximum of four passengers plus one pilot, and bring them over a distance of 100 miles at a cruise speed of 150mph.
The VA-1X will feature distributed propulsion for redundancy using eight electric motors and rotors. The front four of those are installed along the leading edge of the high wing with a 15 meter span. They can swivel to provide lift in vertical mode during take-off, landing or hover, or thrust in forward horizontal flight. The blades of the rear rotors mounted behind the trailing edge can collapse to provide less drag and be more efficient in forward flight, making the eVTOL fly with far less energy and power requirements than a helicopter. It will be powered by Lithium-ion batteries. The following video shows the aircraft in its transition from hover to forward flight.
Noise pollution is one of the major points of concerns for skeptics of the urban air mobility industry. Because of the VA-1X’s large open rotors rotating with significantly lower tip speeds than a helicopter, it is said to achieve noise levels 30 times quieter. To assure safety, it will be certified by EASA to the same levels as commercial airliners. Vertical Aerospace partnered with many industry leaders such as Honeywell, who supplies the fly-by-wire flight control system.
Passenger comfort and experience is at the center of the cabin’s interior design, with easy access and egress through the side doors and plenty of storage both by your seat and in a separate luggage compartment. The four passengers face each other with a spacious feel thanks to the large windows and skylight.
The VA-1X is set to be operational by 2024. Vertical Aerospace has designed and flown two eVTOL aircraft prior to the VA-1X.