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American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic order electric taxis from Vertical Aerospace

The startup revealed on Thursday that it has pre-ordered up to 1,000 of its zero-emission VA-X4 vertical takeoff aircraft, worth up to $ 4 billion, as it announced plans to make it public in New York by merging with a blank check company. Broadstone Acquisition Corp.

The VA-X4 will travel at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour and will be “almost silent” when in flight, according to the company. A prototype of the aircraft, which has a range of over 100 miles, is currently being produced, and the first test flight is planned for later this year.

american airlines (AAL) has agreed to pre-order up to 250 aircraft, with an option for an additional 100. The Dublin-based aircraft leasing company Avolon has pre-orders and options for 500 aircraft, while Virgin Atlantic has an option to pre-order up to 150. Pre-orders are subject to under certain conditions and completed stages, including certification by aviation safety regulators.

“This is the most exciting time in aviation in almost a century,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, CEO and co-founder of Vertical Aerospace. “Electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way as the jet engine 70 years ago,” he added.

Fitzpatrick founded Ovo Group, which owns the second largest retailer in the United Kingdom. Its mission at Vertical Aerospace is to make air travel “personal, on demand and carbon-free”, and the start-up manufacturer counts former executives from Rolls Royce (RYCEF), Jaguar Land Rover and the UK Department of Defense among its engineering team.
Microsoft’s (MSFT) the venture capital subsidiary and Rocket Internet have also invested in the business.
Vertical Aerospace hopes to partner with Rolls-Royce and Honey (SHE), among others, will allow it to quickly secure the same level of certification as large commercial aircraft from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and enable production on a large scale. Trade operations are expected to begin in 2024.

Airlines and aircraft manufacturers are facing increasing pressure to tackle carbon emissions. The pandemic has plunged aviation into its worst downturn and is expected to accelerate the transition to renewable energy as governments seize the opportunity to promote environmental recovery.

“Emerging technologies are crucial in the race to reduce carbon emissions, and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft,” said Derek Kerr, chief financial officer of American Airlines.

The world’s largest airline plans to work with Vertical on passenger operations and infrastructure development in the United States.

Depiction of a VA-X4 aircraft of the Virgin Atlantic brand, delivered by Vertical Aerospace.

In the UK, Virgin Atlantic is exploring a regional network to connect cities in the UK with airports such as London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester.

“With 37 cities with a population of over 100,000 within 100 miles of London’s Heathrow Airport, the VA-X4 offers huge potential to support zero-emission short-distance transfers for 7.7 million customers outside London,” the statement said. of Virgin Atlantic.

Vertical will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange following the merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp, a special purpose vehicle (SPAC). The deal will value Vertical at $ 2.2 billion and is expected to close in the second half of this year.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Virgin Atlantic planned to make a test flight later this year. The test will be conducted by Vertical Aerospace.

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