Britain’s first air taxi

A Bristol-based start-up company called Vertical Aerospace has built and already tested the first electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft in the UK, a major milestone in the transport industry’s ambitions for air taxis. The company has set itself the goal of creating a mode of aviation that can be used on demand or that emissions are negligible. The helicopter-shaped aircraft is equipped with 4 rotors, so the technology that supports vertical take-off and landing allows flying between precise locations, so there is no need to touch airports during the trip.

The company was licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority to operate the aircraft and a test flight was carried out last June in Kemble, Gloucestershire. Currently, the aircraft can fly for 5 minutes at a maximum speed of 80 km / h. Since the first test run, the company has completed a dozen test flights. The development plans of the start-up include the implementation of the technology providing autonomous flight and the provision of on-demand flight, ie so that those who wish to travel can order the service to their place of residence if necessary. I want to start air taxis between cities by 2022. Many companies are showing interest in the air taxi service, and Rolls-Royce has already built a propulsion system for these vehicles. The world’s first electric aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing was created in 2017 by a German start-up, the Lilium.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder of Vertical Aerospace, and CEO of OVO Energy, a power supply company, came up with the constraints on Manor Racing, the British Formula One company. In his view, the current short-haul flights are not efficient enough, as the travel time to or from the airport exceeds the time required to travel by plane itself. Still, the number of people claiming this type of flight has exploded in recent years, causing aviation to play an increasing role in local air pollution.

OVO pays great attention to renewable energy. This encouraged Mr Fitzpatrick to make the aircraft carrying out the planned taxi service electric, thus reducing the carbon footprint of aviation, which currently accounts for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe. Vertical Aerospace sees great potential for the UK to become a leader in the air taxi industry. Over the next 2-3 years, they want to deliver on specific routes, such as between Bristol and London and Sheffield and Liverpool. However, the development of the service still faces a number of regulatory barriers.

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