The VX4 is being developed by the UK firm Vertical Aerospace. 

By Stephen Jones and Taylor Rains

  • American Airlines pre-ordered 250 VX4 flying taxis from UK aerospace firm Vertical Aerospace. 
  • Insider recently saw a prototype of the VX4 unveiled at the Farnborough International Airshow 2022. 
  • It can carry four passengers up to 100 miles and reach speeds of more than 150 miles per hour. 

American Airlines is betting big on flying taxis.

American Airlines aircraft.
American Airlines aircraft. 

The airline conditionally pre-ordered 250 of Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 eVTOLs in June 2021, with an option for 100 more. On July 15, 2022, American agreed delivery slots on the first 50 of those.

Vertical Aerospace
Vertical Aerospace 

Source: Vertical Aerospace and American Airlines 

eVTOLs, short for Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing aircraft, are seen by some as the future of short-distance air travel and as a contribution towards the air industry’s target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Wisk
Major planemakers like Boeing (which backs Wisk), Airbus, and Embraer are all developing prototypes of their own. 

UK firm Vertical Aerospace is one of several startups seeking approval from aviation regulators for eVTOLs.

Lilium, Supernal and Joby Aviation are other companies designing eVTOLs.
Lilium, Supernal, and Joby Aviation are other companies designing eVTOLs. 

Designers often describe eVTOLs as a form of flying taxi. The aircraft will be more environmentally friendly, quieter, and faster than helicopters, which are used for similar intercity air travel, designers say.

The New York City skyline
eVTOLs could improve inner-city and inter-city travel. 

Insider recently saw a prototype of Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 on display at the Farnborough Airshow 2022. Here’s what the vehicle could look like.

The Vx4 is being developed by the UK firm Vertical Aerospace.
The VX4 is being developed by the UK firm Vertical Aerospace. 

Vertical Aerospace’s fully electric VX4 will be capable of transporting five people — one pilot and four passengers — distances up to 100 miles, the company says. It could reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

The front of the Vertical Aerospace VX4.
Vertical Aerospace’s VX4 from the front. 

It has a wing span of 15 meters and a fuselage length of 13 meters.

Source: Vertical Aerospace

The craft doesn’t have engines but instead has eight EPUs (Electrical Power Units) developed by Rolls-Royce.

A black propellor faces upwards. It has the logo for the engineering firm Rolls-Royce
The Vx4 doesn’t have engines but has EPUs instead. 

The four row of rotors take off in a vertical position, but tilt to flat once the craft is at cruising altitude, a spokesperson told Insider.

The four EPUs at the back stay in a static position.

One of the four static EPUs on the VX4.
Honeywell, the US aerospace manufacturer, is developing the flight controls and avionics. 

The prototype cabin has room for four passengers and baggage compartments under the seat.

The VX4 cabin sits four passengers, with luggage storage under the seats.
The VX4 cabin sits four passengers, with luggage storage under the seats. 

There are holds for bigger bags that are accessible on the exterior of the fuselage.

Luggage storage on the VX4 behind the cockpit.
Luggage storage on the VX4 behind the cockpit. 

Vertical Aerospace is preparing to begin test flights in the summer, starting with a prototype of the aircraft identical to the mockup.

The spokesperson said that the final design could change depending on the results.
The spokesperson said that the final design could change depending on the results.

Vertical Aerospace hopes the craft will be certified by aviation regulators from 2025. American Airlines’ preorder is on the condition that the vehicle is approved.

VX4, Farnborough Airshow
VX4 

Source: Vertical Aerospace

“We believe these aircraft are a step forward in the future of air mobility, particularly in urban city centers,” an American Airlines spokesperson told Insider.

Passengers wait with bags at London's Heathrow Airport.
The ability of eVTOLs to ferry initially premium paying passengers between transport hubs and city centers is a major appeal for airlines. 

American is not the only major carrier interested in the craft. Vertical Aerospace said it has around 1,400 conditional preorders, from airlines including Virgin Atlantic, AirAsia and Japan Airlines.

Mock up of an Ax4 in red and white Virgin livery
Virgin Atlantic has also placed preorders for the Vertical Aerospace’s Ax4. 

Via BusinessInsider.com

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