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Vertical Aerospace reaches significant certification milestones
Vertical is the first British electric aircraft company to receive a DOA from the UK aviation regulator, which will streamline its steps to type certification. The developer has also commenced certification efforts in Japan.
DOA approval means the CAA is satisfied that Vertical has the capability to design a safe and reliable aircraft.
Read this story in our April 2023 printed issue.

Vertical Aerospace has made further progress on the path to certification for its VX4 eVTOL aircraft, including securing the first ever design organisation approval (DOA) issued to an eVTOL manufacturer by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

UK and European aerospace companies cannot hold a type certificate without being granted a DOA. The DOA authorises Vertical to conduct design activities and issue design approvals within the DOA's scope of approval. As an approved design organisation, Vertical will have increasing authority and privileges as it progresses through the design and certification programme of the VX4. This approval means the CAA is satisfied that Vertical has the capability to design a safe and reliable aircraft and aviation-related products to the highest standards. This is expected to streamline the steps towards obtaining type certification.

The process for achieving DOA involved a rigorous assessment of Vertical's procedures, its quality management system, the competence of its technical workforce and the necessary facilities and equipment to support the design activities to certify the VX4 aircraft.

Earlier this month, the UK CAA announced its intention to adopt EASA means of compliance to SC-VTOL, the standards against which European and now UK manufacturers will design eVTOLs. Vertical continues working closely with the CAA on the type certification of its VX4 aircraft, having recently submitted its certification basis proposal to the regulator.

Taken together, this progress provides essential regulatory clarity to Vertical on the requirements for the development of its VX4 aircraft and further discussions will continue with the CAA in coming months, including robust technical familiarisations. This positions the UK, alongside Europe, as a market with a clear regulatory framework for the design and manufacture of these novel electric aircraft.

Vertical has also formally commenced its certification efforts in Japan, following the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau's (JCAB) acceptance of the VX4's validation programme. Successful validation of the VX4's type certificate will allow the aircraft to be operated in this key market. Vertical is well-positioned in Japan, having partnered with Japan Airline, through the placement of up to 100 VX4 pre-orders with Avolon, as well as with Marubeni Corporation for up to 200 VX4 pre-orders. In January 2023, Marubeni made a pre-delivery payment to Vertical for the reservation of its first 25 VX4 aircraft delivery slots out of the 200 VX4 conditional pre-orders. In March 2023, it was revealed that Marubeni would be one of the operators of the advanced air mobility showcase for the 2025 Osaka World Expo to fly with Vertical's VX4.

JCAB formally becomes the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is working closely with, including the CAA on type certification and concurrent validation with EASA and the FAA) Vertical is also in discussions with the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil on the VX4's future validation programme. The establishment of this broad coalition of regulators will enable Vertical to deliver the VX4 into service internationally, with its airline, helicopter operator, aircraft lessor, business aviation and tourism group customers.

Founder and CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick says: “I am immensely proud that Vertical is the first British electric aircraft company in history to receive a DOA from the UK aviation regulator. This approval is a critical step forward in our mission to decarbonise air travel and bring the UK's first electric aircraft to market. We are grateful for the CAA's commitment to advancing sustainable aviation, which allows us to build on the UK's proud aerospace tradition.”

Head of certification Paul Harper adds: “Receiving a DOA from the CAA is a huge testament to our team and the hard work we are doing to ensure safety is at the core of the VX4. It represents a significant milestone on our journey to type certification and we would like to thank the CAA for its guidance and continued support. I believe that in formally working with JCAB, as the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is committed to certifying with, we are on track for establishing the most detailed understanding of global regulators' needs and differences for eVTOLs. This will give us a competitive edge in bringing the VX4 into service.”

UK CAA design and certification manager Garry Lathey says: “We are committed to enabling innovators such as Vertical to take their ideas to market in a safe, secure and sustainable way. The granting of design organisation approval to Vertical is an essential step on its journey to bring an eVTOL aircraft into service. It emphasises our commitment to making the UK a key destination for aviation innovators. It's also vital that this work has an international impact, and so in all our efforts we aim to work collaboratively with other regulatory bodies around the world to support the future of eVTOL flight and maintain the high safety standards that the public expects.”

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