Vertical Lifts Off Under Cover
Vertical Aerospace announced on Sept. 26 that the company had conducted the first tethered airborne tests of the full-scale prototype of its VX4 eVTOL aircraft. The first lift-off occurred on Saturday, Sept. 24, and saw the VX4 prototype take off and land while tethered to the ground for safety, and powered by ground generators: “ground power allowed us to progress with early flight testing while batteries were being prepared for installation, and also afforded the ability to run for long durations without the need to recharge, improving flight test efficiency,” said Victoria Madden, Head of Communications at Vertical Aerospace. The hover was conducted inside the company’s Cotswold Airport hangar, and lasted for approximately 10 minutes, with an altitude of less than 1 m (3.3 ft). The aircraft was flown initially by Vertical Chief Test Pilot Justin Paines (right) and then by Test Pilot Simon Davies (left), with a fixed (non-retractable) main landing gear.
In a press release, Vertical said that it was the first British company to start flight tests with a new, UK-designed and built aircraft in over 20 years. The flight test program is expected to continue for several months, expanding to free hover flights and eventually transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight. Vertical hopes to certify the VX4 by 2025; the company has received more than 1,400 conditional preorders for the aircraft.