The partnership includes an option for Virgin Atlantic to purchase up to 150 eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft and exploration of a UK Joint Venture with Vertical Aerospace, to deliver a Virgin Atlantic branded short haul eVTOL network.
The fully-electric VA-X4 is a zero emissions, near silent aircraft with a range of over 100 miles and it will carry four passengers in addition to a pilot. The VA-X4 has four tilting advanced rotors at the front and stowable rotors at the rear, capable of speeds over 200mph, and is set to revolutionise urban mobility and electrify air travel, with certification to the same safety standards as commercial airliners.
In line with Virgin Atlantic’s focus on building strategic, best in class partnerships with companies that share its values, ambition and innovative mindset, Virgin Atlantic and Vertical Aerospace will be working together to explore a Joint Venture to deliver next generation eVTOL passenger operations in the UK, combining the world-class knowledge and expertise of both partners. Vertical Aerospace and Virgin Atlantic will seek to establish short haul, electric aircraft connectivity between UK cities and airport hubs starting with London Heathrow, Manchester and London Gatwick.
The goal is to enable sustainable, price competitive, regional connectivity across the first and last 100 miles of the customer journey. For example, reducing the 56-mile journey from Cambridge to London Heathrow to just 22 minutes, in comparison to a 1 hour 30 drive by road. With 37 towns and cities with populations over 100,000 within 100 miles of London Heathrow Airport, the VA-X4 offers huge potential to support zero emissions short haul transfers for 7.7 million customers outside of London, for flights to and from the UK’s main hub airport.
A full-scale prototype of the VA-X4 is currently in production and the first test flight is planned for later this year.
Shai Weiss, CEO, Virgin Atlantic said:
“With innovation and sustainability leadership firmly in our DNA, we are excited to be partnering with Vertical Aerospace to pioneer sustainable and zero emissions air travel in the UK. We pride ourselves on building enduring strategic partnerships and are thrilled to be working alongside Vertical in its mission to bring eVTOL travel to the UK. Our partnership includes an option for Virgin Atlantic to acquire up to 150 eVTOL VA-X4 aircraft and exploration of a Joint Venture to bring short haul, electric vehicle connectivity to cities and our UK airport hubs, starting with London Heathrow as well as Manchester and London Gatwick. Combining the design, engineering and manufacturing expertise of Vertical with the award-winning customer experience and operational excellence of Virgin Atlantic.”
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO and Founder, said:
“This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. By bringing together two entrepreneurial organisations who share the same passion for innovation and best in class partnerships, we can revolutionise urban mobility in the UK and electrify air travel. We look forward to working closely with Virgin Atlantic and completely changing how people think about flying through the skies.”
Commercial operations of the VA-X4 are planned for 2024 following European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) certification.
As a founding member of the UK Government’s Jet Zero Council and alongside an existing commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, Virgin Atlantic’s partnership with Vertical is a further step towards it becoming an industry sustainability leader - finding innovative solutions to decarbonise aviation.
For further information please contact the Virgin Atlantic press office on firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
- As launch partner in the UK, Virgin Atlantic has the option to order between 50 and 150 aircraft. This is not yet a committed order and with aircraft development still under way, the final order value is yet to be confirmed.
- Vertical Aerospace has also announced plans to combine with a special acquisition company (SPAC) via a merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp and undertake a public market listing on the New York Stock Exchange later in 2021, in order to raise the capital required to bring the product to market.
- More detailed information about the VA-X4 is available here: https://www.vertical-aerospace.com/va-x4/
- Virgin Atlantic has a long and established record of innovation, challenging what is right and what is best for the customer and innovating where it makes sense. The airline revolutionised inflight entertainment and the customer experience in 1992, when it introduced seatback screens and the Premium cabin, and in 2017 became the first airline to introduce fleetwide WiFi. Virgin Atlantic has also been a first mover on sustainability, becoming the first carrier to operate a commercial flight using biofuel in 2008 ahead of the first commercial flight using fuel made from waste industrial gases in 2018, in partnership with LanzaTech.
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About Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson in 1984, with innovation and amazing customer service at its core. In 2020, Virgin Atlantic was voted Britain’s only Global Five Star Airline by APEX for the fourth year running in the Official Airline Ratings. Headquartered in London, it employs 5,900 people worldwide, flying customers to 27 destinations across four continents. Alongside shareholder and Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic operates a leading transatlantic network, with onward connections to over 200 cities around the world. On 3 February 2020, Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic launched an expanded Joint Venture, offering a comprehensive route network, convenient flight schedules, competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers.
Sustainability remains central to the airline and since September 2019, Virgin Atlantic has welcomed seven brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, helping to transform the fleet into one of the youngest, quietest and most fuel efficient in the sky. By 2022, the airline will operate a streamlined fleet of 37 twin engine aircraft following the retirement of its B747-400s and A340-600s, making its simplified fleet 10% more efficient than before the Covid-19 crisis impacted.
For more information visit www.virginatlantic.com, www.virginholidays.co.uk or via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @virginatlantic @virginholidays
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About Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace’s mission is to make air travel personal, on demand and carbon free. The company has an unrivalled top-tier partner ecosystem and is backed by American Airlines, Avolon, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell among others. Vertical’s partnerships de-risk execution and its pathway to certification, allow for a lean cost structure, and enable production at scale. With projected speeds over 200mph, near silent when in flight, zero emissions and low cost per passenger mile, the VA-X4 is expected to open up urban air mobility to a whole new range of passengers and transform how we travel.