Air Taxi

Avolon Orders 500 of Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL aircraft in $2 Billion Deal

By Kelsey Reichmann | June 11, 2021
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Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL, the VA-X4, has a range of over 100 miles with a top speed of 202 mph and a five-person capacity. (Vertical Aerospace)

Avolon, an international aircraft leasing company, announced an order of up to 500 of Vertical Aerospace’s electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft in a deal that could total $2 billion, according to a June 11 press release.

“Avolon is proud to be a launch customer for the VA-X4 aircraft, demonstrating our commitment to a net zero carbon economy and to driving innovation in the global aviation sector,” Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, said in a statement. “Our order with Vertical will also accelerate the inevitable commercial roll-out of zero emissions aircraft. Before the end of this decade, we expect zero emission urban air mobility, enabled by eVTOLs, to play an increasingly important role in the global commercial aviation market.”

Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL, the VA-X4, has a range of over 100 miles with a top speed of 202 mph and a five-person capacity, according to the company’s website. Vertical Aerospace is expecting the VA-X4 to be certified in 2024. The aircraft is also expected to take its first test flight this year.

“We are delighted to announce this aircraft order with Avolon, one of the leading aircraft lessors in the world,” Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said in a statement. “Avolon’s proven management team and strong track record of starting, and scaling, a global leading business made this an attractive opportunity and represents a critical milestone for us. This agreement, with an established aviation company like Avolon will allow us to plug into their global commercial network of airlines, reaching key decision makers in a fast and efficient manner.”

Vertical Aerospace is expecting the VA-X4 to be certified in 2024. The aircraft is also expected to take its first test flight this year. (Vertical Aerospace)

The companies will also collaborate on the development, certification, and commercial roll-out of the VA-X4, according to the release.

“Our global scale and deep industry relationships, combined with Vertical’s technological leadership makes this a winning alliance,” Slattery said. “We are excited about the synergies and opportunities that both businesses will bring to the agreement. We believe the global reach of the Avolon platform will accelerate the inevitable adoption of eVTOLs as a new, safe and zero emissions mode of ultra-short-haul air transport.”

Vertical Aerospace’s other partners include Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, American Airlines, Microsoft, and Virgin Atlantic, according to the release.

“This order reaffirms Avolon’s position as an industry pioneer,” Slattery said. “With Vertical, we will revolutionize air travel and continue to reduce the impact of our industry on the environment.  In Vertical, we have identified a long-term strategic operator that shares our vision for a cleaner and more efficient mode of air transport. As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, air travel will be materially reshaped with airlines needing to embrace emerging technologies that decarbonize air travel. We strongly believe that the VA-X4 will lead this transformation."

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  • Rich Saylor

    Are they serious? Take a look at the radar images of aircraft over various parts of the world… Europe, North America, and so on; notice how many aircraft are flying in shared airspace, which as it happens is very crowded; also note that most of the aircraft flying carry passenger loads of somethng like 100 to nearly 500 each (to be profitable; the airline industry is very competitive!)… now imagine what the airspace would be like for these new 5- passenger aircraft to carry the same amount of passengers (and their baggage) at the same time. Even limiting the 5-person flights to replacing large-aircraft flying under 100 miles, that’s still a lot more aircraft in the air! So… if the current passenger load using today’s aircraft is only 100 persons per flight, 100 divided by 5, equals 20 times as many aircraft necessary to carry the same amount of passengers to the same destinations at any one time. Air traffic control- even AI controlled airspace- could become a nightmare!
    Also, how do they figure “zero carbon net”? How about the resources needed to make a lot of batteries; then, how will the electricity to charge those batteries be made? Solar farms? Where would they be put, as a large area is needed to make efficient ones… on the wings? not nearly enough area for that, in flight. In deserts? What about the impact on the desert ecology… On the surface of the ocean (if possible)… same question!

    So far as new aircraft designs & technology goes, helicopters have been doing this sort of thing for many years, but I don’t see masses of helicopters flying nearly everywhere…?

    The idea of the personal “flying car”- one in every garage- sounded good, too, but…