Fed up with traffic jams? Imagine a world where your taxi takes to the skies and lands on top of your office building, recharges and sets off afresh.
That’s the vision of Stephen Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO of Britain’s Vertical Aerospace, which is set to raise $394 million in a merger with a blank-cheque New York-listed company, and who says his aircraft will be flying by the mid-2020s.
And he’s not alone. Some of the world’s most high-profile engineers and airlines believe Vertical is onto something with its plan for zero-emission mini-aircraft to almost silently take four passengers through the skies for up to 120 miles (193 kms).
American Airlines, aircraft lessor Avolon, engineers Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, as well as Microsoft’s M12 unit are investing in the merger, which is expected to complete by the end of the year.
Fitzpatrick, who also set up OVO Energy, Britain’s no.3 energy retailer, said Vertical flights between London’s Heathrow airport and its Canary Wharf financial district will take 15 minutes and cost 50 pounds ($68) per passenger.
That potential is attracting airlines’ attention. More than 1,000 VA-X4 aircraft have been pre-ordered by customers.
Interest in the zero-emission aircraft comes at a time when aviation companies are under mounting pressure from investors to help decarbonise the sector and boost their environmental, social and governance scores.
“We are going to sign deals. We’re finding the appetite and the demand from airlines to be really strong,” Fitzpatrick told Reuters.