Air Taxi Start-Up Vertical Aerospace to Go Public With Funding From American Airlines, Others

The company has pre-orders from its backers for up to 1,000 planes.

By Lou Whiteman

Air taxi start-up Vertical Aerospace Group said late Thursday it intends to go public with nearly $400 million in new funding from a number of big-name partners who have also agreed to order up to 1,000 aircraft.

Vertical has a deal to merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Broadstone Acquisition (NYSE:BSN). The deal values the combination at about $2.2 billion and includes investments from American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL), air-leasing company Avolon, and Virgin Atlantic airline, as well as an investment arm of Microsoft.

Vertical Aerospace’s main product is the VA-X4, a piloted, zero-emissions electric-vertical take off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The airplane/helicopter hybrid is expected to have a range of 100 miles and capacity to carry four passengers along with a pilot at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.

These so-called air taxi developers are becoming a hot commodity on Wall Street. China’s Ehang Holdings is already public. Another start-up, Joby Aviation, has a deal pending to merge with SPAC Reinvent Technology Partners. And Embraer is reportedly in talks to merge its eVTOL unit with Zanite Acquisition, also a SPAC.

Vertical has a competitive advantage in the form of its investors. American, Virgin Atlantic, and Avolon together have committed to buy up to 1,000 aircraft. American, which said it has a “pre-order” of 250 aircraft with an option to order an additional 100, in a statement said eVTOLs could be a key part of its push to go green.

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Space plane aims to take you anywhere on the globe in one hour

Space plane aims to take you anywhere on the globe in one hour

A company called Venus Aerospace Corp. is pursuing a hypersonic space plane that has the potential to take people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in about an hour. The trip in their proposed space plane would take off from the ground like a conventional aircraft and fly up to a high cruising altitude. Once at that cruising altitude, a rocket booster would ignite and push the aircraft to the edge of space at more than 9000 mph.

That’s approximately 12 times the speed of sound. The aircraft would travel at that incredible velocity for approximately 15 minutes before gliding against the atmosphere to slow down and eventually landing at a conventional airport just as it took off. Venus was founded by a pair of former Virgin Orbit LLC employees, and the company currently has 15 employees of its own.

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Ehang unveils tree-like vertiports for its autonomous passenger drones

Autonomous air vehicle company ehang unveils ‘baobab’, a large tree-like tower and landing platform for its EH216 passenger drones.

Designed by giancarlo zema design group (GZDG) with sustainability at the core, photovoltaic panels on the vertiports will generate energy and independent plug-and-play charging points will recharge the drones wirelessly. currently in the development stage, ehang and GZDG hope to enter the emerging global eco-tourism sector with hubs being planned for a lakeside site in china’s zhaoqing city as well as in the maldives, the united arab emirates, and italy.

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This flying electric ferry could revolutionize coastal travel

By Trevor Mogg

Imagine living in a coastal community and heading to the harbor for an ultra-low-altitude flight aboard an electric aircraft to a neighboring town just along the water.

Boston-based startup Regent is already working toward such a reality with its 10-passenger “seaglider” that it says could be carrying paying passengers as early as 2025.

Co-founders CEO Billy Thalheimer and CTO Michael Klinker, both of whom previously worked for a Boeing-linked company, told CNBC this week that the zero-emissions plane would begin a journey by leaving a harbor on a hydrofoil before lifting off the water to reach speeds of up to 180 mph — way faster than a lumbering ferry plying the same waters.

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Flying taxi startup Lilium goes public via SPAC, unveils its new electric aircraft

It’s the latest eVTOL company to go public via a reverse merger

By Andrew J. Hawkins


Germany’s Lilium will be the latest electric aviation startup to go public via a reverse merger with a special acquisition company, or SPAC. Lilium will merge with Qell Acquisition, a SPAC founded by former General Motors executive Barry Engle. The newly formed company will list on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol “LILM.”

As part of the announcement, Lilium unveiled a new, seven-seat electric aircraft that it says will launch as part of an inter-city flying taxi service in 2025. Previously, the company’s prototype was said to have only five seats — so we can assume that Lilium’s ambitions to ferry more passengers are growing along with its financial expectations. 

It’s the latest deal involving an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup after the SPAC deals of Archer and Joby Aviation. A SPAC is a blank-check corporation, formed as an alternative to an IPO, because it raises funds for an operation that doesn’t have revenue of its own. There have been a rash of SPAC deals involving companies in the transportation space, including electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and micromobility. 

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Flying Car Developer Takes Off, Becomes Publicly Traded

David Mantey 

A California developer of flying taxis will become a publicly-traded company — and celebrated by unveiling its aircraft in action for the first time.
Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt made the video announcement standing in front of the company’s aircraft — which proceeded to quietly start up its six rotors, lift a few feet off the ground, turn around and begin a slow ascent.

The company, one of the numerous would-be flying car startups around the world, operated quietly for nearly a decade before landing hundreds of millions in venture capital investment — including from Toyota, Intel, and JetBlue — in recent years. Late last year, the company acquired Uber’s flying car division, and soon, it will merge with a special purpose acquisition company in order to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Inside the world’s first airport for drones and flying cars

By Daniel Bennett

We talk to Ricky Sandhu, CEO of Urban Air Port, about the ambitious plan for an off-grid transport hub for drones and air-taxis.

Plans to build the world’s first off-grid transport hub for drones and air-taxis have just received government funding. The company Urban Air Port, which is building the hub in Coventry, will provide flying electric vehicles, carrying cargo and eventually people, with a place to charge and load up.

The project aims to lay the groundwork for a web of transport hubs that could provide a green, clean remedy to our cities’ groaning infrastructure.

We talk to Ricky Sandhu, the Founder & CEO of Urban Air Port, to find out if the idea could take off.

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Cadillac shows off a single-seater VTOL drone concept

By Daniel Cooper

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It’s an escalade, but in the air. 

At GM’s CES keynote, the company showed off a number of Cadillac vehicles, both real and imagined, to explain its vision for the future of transport. On the fantastic side, the company presented two concept vehicles that it says will exemplify its “halo portfolio.” First up is a single-seater drone, a VTOL craft with a 90kW battery, that can travel from rooftop-to-rooftop at up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour.

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This Flying Car Costs $599K—and It’s Now Street Legal in Holland

By Vanessa Bates Ramirez 

We’ve all had the experience of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing but miles of red taillights ahead, wishing we could somehow break away from the pack and zoom off to our destination traffic-free. Now drivers in the Netherlands are one step closer to making this vision a reality, as a commercial flying car has just been approved for use on roads there.

The car is called the PAL-V Liberty, and it’s made by Dutch company PAL-V. It looks a lot like what you’d probably expect or imagine a flying car to look like: a cross between a small helicopter and a very aerodynamic car (with a foldable propeller on top).

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First electric air taxis set to fly in Singapore by 2023

Posted by Mallika Soni 

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VOLOCOPTER COMPLETED

Singapore is set to host the world’s first electric-powered air taxi service by the end of 2023, according to Volocopter GmbH, which is developing the vertical-takeoff craft.

The German manufacturer is committed to starting operations within three years once it completes flight trials, evaluation and certification in collaboration with the city-state, it said in a statement Wednesday. Tickets for a 15-minute trip costing 300 euros ($364) are already on sale.

Volocopter completed a demonstration flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay area in October last year, and the first commercial route is likely to fly tourists over the same district, offering spectacular views of the skyline, the company said. Later services could including cross-border journeys.

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Self-driving robotaxis are taking off in China


By Michelle Toh, CNN Business 

self-driving-robotaxis-china

Hong Kong(CNN Business)The world has been inching toward fully autonomous cars for years. In China, one company just got even closer to making it a reality.

On Thursday, AutoX, an Alibaba (BABA)-backed startup, announced it had rolled out fully driverless robotaxis on public roads in Shenzhen. The company said it had become the first player in China to do so, notching an important industry milestone.

Previously, companies operating autonomous shuttles on public roads in the country were constrained by strict caveats, which required them to have a safety driver inside. h

This program is different. In Shenzhen, AutoX has completely removed the backup driver or any remote operators for its local fleet of 25 cars, it said. The government isn’t restricting where in the city AutoX operates, though the company said they are focusing on the downtown area.

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Air taxis could reduce fuel consumption, alleviate traffic congestion


by Jennifer J Burke , Oak Ridge National Laboratory

air-taxis-reduce-fuel-congestion
An ORNL model using air taxis on the heavily traveled route between downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport revealed that fuel consumption is significantly reduced if even a small percentage of commuters switched to air taxis. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

If air taxis become a viable mode of transportation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have estimated they could reduce fuel consumption significantly while alleviating traffic congestion.

Air taxis, small aerial vehicles that provide point-to-point, on-demand travel, have proven to save time, but their impact on fuel use remains largely unquantified.

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