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vertical aerospace flying taxi

Flying taxi made by British firm poised for 2024 take-off

Image credit: vertical aerospace

A Bristol-based engineering company has unveiled a “flying taxi” dubbed the VA-1X that can carry up to five passengers and is on course to start commercial flights in 2024.

Developers Vertical Aerospace (VA) said the craft would be “the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft” and plans to manufacture it in the UK.

VA-1X will be able to cruise at around 150mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles (160km), meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train.

The aircraft will bypass road congestion, and will be certified to the same safety standards as commercial airlines. VA said its electric engine will mean trips will completely emission-free.

The firm’s ultimate aim is to make the VA-1X cheaper than helicopter flights while removing one of the major barriers to environmentally friendly air travel.

Prices for air taxi services are initially expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car, and will decrease as adoption grows. 

The aircraft should have reduced noise pollution, approximately 30x quieter than a helicopter thanks to its distributed propulsion system.

With a 15-metre wingspan and 13 metres long, the aircraft will be able to take off and land from existing helipads, and fly-by-wire flight control systems should make it simple to fly.

Efforts to develop electric short-haul vehicles capable of flight have been growing in recent years, with German start-up Lilium completing early flight-testing of a competing vehicle in October and Uber partnering with Nasa to develop software to manage airborne taxi routes. A number of other companies are also active in this field. 

“eVTOL technology will revolutionise travel, combining the safety of commercial airlines with the disruptive environmental and cost benefits of the electrification of flight” said Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace.

“With the launch of the VA-1X, we’re proud to be taking eVTOL one step closer to mass-market adoption, and supporting the next era of aviation.

“At Vertical Aerospace we believe that people should be able to quickly and affordably get from A to B without sacrificing the planet - with the VA-1X, this vision will start to be realised in under five years.”

E&T has previously looked at a number of different flying car projects that are currently in development around the world.

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