American Airlines And Virgin Atlantic Buy Up To 400 Flying Taxis

Today, both American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic signed deals with Vertical Aerospace to acquire up to 250 and 150 electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, respectively. Let’s investigate further.

American Airlines eVTOL
American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic will buy up to 400 flying taxis. Photo: American Airlines

American and Virgin bet on flying taxis

American Airlines announced today it will invest US$25 million in Vertical Aerospace, a leading UK-headquartered business developing eVTOL aircraft. The US carrier aims to help the development of emerging technologies that allow reduced carbon emissions.

Similarly, Virgin Atlantic announced today the purchase of between 50 to 150 eVTOL aircraft; the company will also explore the possibility of a Joint Venture with Vertical Aerospace.

These two announcements are huge and show the promise that eVTOL technology has as the future of urban transportation.

Avolon, the international aircraft leasing company, also signed a ground-breaking order for up to 500 eVTOL aircraft. The order has a price of approximately US$2 billion, said the company in a statement.

In just one day, Vertical Aerospace became the single most important player in the eVTOL market.

Vertical Aerospace Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic could explore the possibility of a Joint Venture with Vertical Aerospace. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

What are the companies saying?

We’re entering a fascinating period in the history of aviation. Last week, we saw United Airlines signing a massive deal to possibly bring back the supersonic jet era. Recently, Embraer also announced an order for 200 of Eve’s eVTOL aircraft. Now, American, Virgin, and Avolon sign massive deals to acquire Vertical Aerospace’s new flying taxis.

Derek Kerr, Chief Financial Officer at American, said,

“Emerging technologies are critical in the race to reduce carbon emissions, and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft.”

Meanwhile, Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic CEO, said the possible Joint Venture with Vertical would bring short-haul, electric vehicle connectivity to cities and UK airport hubs. He pointed out some places like London Heathrow, Manchester, and London Gatwick.

Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, commented,

“Avolon is proud to be a launch customer for the VA-X4 aircraft, demonstrating our commitment to a net-zero carbon economy.”

He added this order would accelerate the inevitable commercial roll-out of zero-emission aircraft. Before the end of this decade, zero-emission urban air mobility will be possible, he foretold.

American Airlines eVTOL
Electrification will transform the history of flying. Photo: American Airlines.

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Learning about the new VA-X4

Electrification will transform flying in the 21st century as the jet engine did 70 years ago, said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical chief executive and founder.

Vertical Aerospace has created the VA-X4. This eVTOL is fully electric and promises zero emissions. It will be a near-silent aircraft with a range of over 100 miles. According to the company, it will be able to carry four passengers and a pilot.

The VA-X4 has four tilting advance rotors at the front and stowable rotors at the rear. It is capable of speeds over 200 mph (321 km/h).

Virgin Atlantic has said that this aircraft will enable sustainable, price competitive, regional connectivity. For instance, it will reduce the 56-mile journey from Cambridge to London Heathrow to just 22 minutes. Nowadays it is one hour 30 minute drive by road.

Likewise, Virgin sees a market of 37 towns and cities within 100 miles of London Heathrow which would be served perfectly by the VA-X4. The airline believes it could transfer up to 7.7 million customers outside of London to Heathrow.

Vertical Aerospace plans to have its first test flight of the VA-X4 later this year. The aircraft certification could come as early as 2024, and deliveries would start that year, said Avolon and American.

Are you excited about this latest development? Let us know in the comments. 

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