EU agrees to piggyback on future UK approval of Vertical Aerospace

Vertical take-off aircraft safety certification acceptance to streamline commercialisation

Vertical Aerospace said Europe's air-safety regulator has agreed to accept the approval of its flying-taxi design by Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), easing the craft's path to market.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will concurrently validate the British regulator's certification of the VX4 model once that has been obtained, Vertical Aerospace said in a statement Thursday.

“Vertical believes this activity with both the CAA and EASA will also support swift validation of the VX4 by other international regulators,” the company said.

Vertical is targeting flights by 2025 as the competition to introduce the world’s first electric vertical take-off and landing craft heats up. While rivals are seeking earlier service entry, the English-headquartered firm said progress on clearing the regulatory hurdles to such radical technology could give it a “competitive edge” in obtaining the type of certification needed to carry paying customers.

Vertical said it will seek validation of the CAA approvals from other national authorities including the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The start-up said it has also submitted a so-called certification basis proposal to the CAA and expects this to be agreed later this year, while design-organisation approval could also be forthcoming in 2022 after its nominated managers were accepted as competent for the roles.

Vertical said that it had hired Trevor Woods, the former EASA certification director, as its head of regulatory affairs.

Vertical has sealed 1,350 pre-orders from customers and partners including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Japanese conglomerate Marubeni, lured by the promise of zero-emission craft and new revenue lines offering helicopter-like services at lower cost.

Dómhnal Slattery's Irish lessor, Avolon, ordered 500 of the aircraft from Vertical Aerospace last year, all of which it has subsequently placed with a range of international customers. Avolon has also invested $15 million (€13.7 million) in Vertical. – Bloomberg