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May 23, 2024
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A couple of days ahead of the Farnborough Airshow, urban air mobility (UAM) start-up Vertical Aerospace has announced a couple of interesting business updates. American Airlines has confirmed delivery slots and its commitment to purchase fifty VX4 vehicles, while Belgian business jet operator Flyinggroup also wants to purchase fifty eVTOLs. American is getting serious about the Vertical eVTOL.

In June 2021, American Airlines announced a conditional pre-order for 250 VX4s plus an option for another 100 advanced air mobility vehicles. The airline also planned to invest $25 million dollar through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction.

Vertical said on July 15 that American has now made the first pre-delivery payment and confirmed its commitment for the first fifty VX4s. “The commitment to pay pre-delivery payments and confirmation of slot reservations for the first fifty aircraft is believed to be the first of its kind for a major airline in the eVTOL industry, and it marks a significant milestone in the partnership between American and Vertical”, Vertical says in a media statement.

PDPs are crucial to any aircraft manufacturer and particularly for a start-up like Vertical, as they provide much-needed cash to the company. And it confirms American’s intention to go ahead with the untried and untested concept of UAMs, for which the regulatory framework still is being formulated. All commitments for some 1.400 VX4s have been conditional on regulatory approval and technological success of the project, so American’s confirmation understandably is big news for Vertical. After the announcement, Vertical’s share on the New York Stock Exchange soared 26.7 percent on Friday.

American is one of Vertical’s most prominent customers, with Virgin Atlantic and lessor Avolon two other ones. Avolon has placed all of the 500 VX4s it has on order with airlines like GOL, Japan Airlines, Air Greenland, Gozen Holding, and AirAsia. Bristow Group, Marubeni, and Iberojet have also placed commitments for the eVTOL vehicle. In February, Vertical announced an industrial partnership with Leonardo to design and produce the fuselage of the VX4.

Entering the business jet market with Flyinggroup

Vertical has added its first customer from the business aviation jet market to this portfolio with Belgium-based Flyinggroup. It has placed a conditional pre-order for fifty VX4s to add them to its portfolio of conventional business aircraft like the Pilatus PC-24 and various Cessna models.

A joint working group has been established to explore how the eVTOL can be integrated into Flyinggroup’s business aviation market, “including individual ownership, low volume operation and fractional ownership. The JWG will also explore the terms and conditions of a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) service center, potentially granting FLYINGGROUP the right to perform MRO services for their fleet and to support their private sales.” 

Vertical Aerospace continues building its team. In April, it announced the appointment of Trevor Woods as Director of Regulatory Affairs. Woods joined Vertical from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA), where he held the position of Certification Director. As recently as this month, the company secured the services of Borna Vrdoljak as Head of Product & Customer Marketing. Vrdoljak joins Vertical after 23 years in various positions at Airbus, most recently as Head of Marketing of Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ).

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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