Michael Doran from Simple Flying – Reports
Zero carbon aviation is our aspiration at Sentinel Aviation, so we we were very excited to hear of Stephen Fitzpatrick’s unwavering support for the VX4 project.
- Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace, is committed to pioneering zero-carbon aviation and has invested $50 million in equity capital to support the company’s development.
- Vertical Aerospace has made significant technical progress in its prototype program and certification plans, which Fitzpatrick believes is not reflected in the company’s share price.
- Vertical’s funding will extend its cash runway into 2025, allowing for the ongoing development of the certification aircraft design and completion of the second-generation VX4 prototype.
The common thread of successful entrepreneurs is that they never willingly give up on their dreams, no matter how bleak things get and how much money they have committed to their pet project. The obvious example is Richard Branson, who battled for decades against the odds, and today, Virgin Atlantic is a testament to his determination and resourcefulness.
A zero-carbon pioneer steps up
Commercial aviation is on borrowed time from politicians and climate change activists and must start proving it can make the transition to emission-free flight, which is why eVTOL development is such an important stepping stone on that pathway. Demonstrating his commitment, Vertical Aerospace Founder and CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick last week committed $50 million in equity capital to the fledgling business at a critical time.
Making the funding announcement, Fitzpatrick said that since founding Vertical in 2016, he has continued to believe in the enormous potential the company has to pioneer zero-carbon aviation, adding:
“The company has achieved significant technical progress both in its prototype programme and its certification plans in 2023, that I believe is not reflected in our share price.
“Given the success I have seen in the past 12 months, I am more confident than ever in our world class team, and I am delighted to further support the company with additional funding.”
The investment is also a foundation for future funding rounds, and it pushes Vertical’s cash runway into the second quarter of 2025, supporting the continuing development of the certification aircraft design, which will follow prototype testing in 2024. It also comes at a critical time for Vertical as it nears completion of the second-generation, full-scale piloted VX4 prototype at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre.
2024 is a big year for eVTOLs
For some years now, 2024 has been the beacon for eVTOLs to strut their stuff on the world stage of this summer’s Paris Olympic Games, with many manufacturers forecasting it would also be the year their aircraft gained regulatory certification. Vertical has its own ambitious year planned, with a series of public flight demonstrations, including the intention to fly at the Farnborough International Airshow in July and to and from London Heathrow Airport.
The $50 million coming from Fitzpatrick is not out of blind loyalty to his dream but follows the achievement of several significant milestones last year, including but not limited to:
- In January, the Vertical Energy Centre opened and built a complete battery powertrain with Molicel cells.
- In March, the UK Civil Aviation Authority granted Design Organisation Approval.
- The full-scale VX4 prototype completed its thrustborne test campaign in August.
- Completing Technical Familiarisations with five global aviation regulators and doing a critical design review for the VX4.
- By October, Vertical had booked pre-orders for 1500 VX4s valued at more than $5 billion.
Customers who have expressed confidence in the Vertical VX4 include airlines, aircraft lessors, helicopter operators, mobility firms and tourism groups. Individual customers include Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Bristow, Kakao Mobility and aircraft lessor Avolon, which has placed orders with Japan Airlines, AirAsia, and Air Greenland.