Vertical Aerospace is to explore whether its VA-X4 eVTOL vehicles could operate from London Heathrow airport by the mid-2020s. This collaboration between Heathrow and Vertical will see both parties work closely to discover how new technology can fit into existing operations at the airport; build an understanding of the regulatory changes that would be required; maximise potential job opportunities; and minimise any potential impacts on communities surrounding the airport.
Heathrow chief strategy officer Chris Annetts notes: “This emerging technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution on local roads, while providing passengers with a best-in-class experience on the cutting edge of modern technology.”
With speeds of up to 200 mph, Vertical's piloted eVTOL VA-X4 will be able to transport four passengers in near silence from Heathrow to the City of London in 12 minutes, with zero operating emissions and at a cost similar to a taxi.
This project comes as interest in the future of urban air mobility is growing, with major airlines already operating at Heathrow keen to see the technology develop. Virgin Atlantic has already announced a partnership for the UK launch of an eVTOL network with Vertical with conditional pre-order options for up to 150 VA-X4s.
By working together, Vertical and Heathrow expect to help Britain maintain its leading position in sustainable aviation technologies, to support moves to a low carbon economy and ultimately net zero by 2050 goals. According to Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss, this represents a next step on the pathway to creating the infrastructure needed to support eVTOL operations at its Heathrow hub, and to transforming the first and last 100 mile journey of passengers travelling through the airport.
Vertical has a conditional pre-order book of up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5.4 billion from customers such as American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow Group, Iberojet and Marubeni Corporation. CEO and founder Stephen Fitzpatrick says: "Vertical continues to partner with world leading organisations such as Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Bristow Group and Microsoft. This partnership with Heathrow is a big step forward as we try to get the UK to net zero by 2050. This announcement marks the start of an exciting relationship that will help make eVTOLs flying from Heathrow by the mid-2020s a reality.”