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Simpson and Story are engaged in Vertical leadership shuffle
The changes come as final assembly of the full-scale prototype nears completion. Stuart Simpson is CEO, and current CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick continues on the board where he is joined by Ben Story.

Vertical Aerospace has appointed Stuart Simpson, its current CFO and a seasoned FTSE100 executive, as CEO. He will be responsible for leading the execution of the company's strategy as it progresses towards certification of the VX4 aircraft, bringing it to market, and launching further fundraising activity.

Founder and current CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick, who recently committed additional capital to the company, will continue to play a prominent role as a board member, focused on business strategy and working with the executive team to deliver on the company's vision.

Simpson joined Vertical Aerospace in 2023 from Avast, a FTSE100 global leader in digital security and privacy, where he was group CFO and a member of the leadership team that was responsible for the company's $9 billion merger with NortonLifeLock in 2021.

Prior to that, he held the roles of interim chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief operating officer at Royal Mail Group, overseeing the Group's return to the FTSE100 during his tenure. Concurrently, he was a board member at GLS Group, a global, technology-led parcel service provider.

Simpson also has extensive automotive industry experience in the UK and internationally, having held several director roles at General Motors globally and senior positions at Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Car Company. The process for appointing a new CFO is underway, with Simpson continuing to oversee the company's financial function in the interim.

In addition, Vertical has strengthened its board with the appointment of Ben Story, a former director and executive team member at Rolls-Royce, board member at Transport for London and managing director at Citi. Story brings 30 years of experience at the highest level of industrial technology, energy, transportation and global finance, and will bring invaluable experience to the company along its path to commercialisation.

Fitzpatrick says: "I am immensely proud of all that the team has achieved over the past four years as Vertical leads the world into a new era of electric flight and becomes a British engineering success story. Vertical is now ready to move into an incredibly important phase of development as we begin testing our more advanced, piloted, full-scale prototype, progress towards certification and are preparing for industrialisation.

"Stuart's extensive leadership experience in high growth technology-based companies make him incredibly well qualified to lead us into this next phase, and I know he shares my passion to bring the benefits of electric aviation to the world. I look forward to seeing what Vertical is going to achieve under his leadership."

Simpson adds: "It's been phenomenal to experience the progress the business has made since I joined, and I could not be more excited to move into this role. I share Stephen's confidence that our experienced team, technology and compelling business model of working with leading industry partners, position us very well to successfully develop one of the most advanced electric aircraft in the world.

"I look forward to working with our formidable team in progressing our path to certification, bringing in additional investment and taking the VX4 to market."

The changes come as the final assembly of the new generation full-scale VX4 prototype nears completion, with the aircraft on track to begin a robust test flight programme ahead of intended public demonstrations at Farnborough International Airshow and Heathrow airport later in 2024. This prototype features next generation propellers, will use Vertical's proprietary battery technology for the first time, and incorporates much more of the company's leading aerospace partners' technology.

Mike Flewitt, chairman of Vertical, says: "Vertical is moving into a really exciting phase of its corporate evolution and Stuart and Ben are both fantastic appointments to take the business through it. Both have significant strategic and fundraising experience and, in their new roles, they will strengthen what is already a very strong team with decades of experience in certifying and bringing new aircraft to market. I look forward to working alongside both, and Stephen, as we create a new chapter in travel."

Story adds: "I've been following the exciting progress Vertical has been making in this nascent sector, and the talented team has achieved so much in a relatively short amount of time. I look forward to playing my part in taking the business into this next exciting phase and bringing the VX4 to market."

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