A UK startup has pulled off the first successful test flight of their electric-powered flying car prototype.
Belfast born Stephen Fitzpatrick is a well-known businessman and former owner of the now-defunct British Formula One racing team Manor Racing. In 2016, the millionaire started Vertical Aerospace after assembling a team of Formula One engineers and experts snatched from Airbus, Boeing, General Electric and Rolls-Royce.
Today, road and airport infrastructure is under enormous pressure and air travel is proving to be increasingly harmful to the environment. This Bristol-based entrepreneurship wants to tap into the market of short-haul flights with a vertical take-off vehicle that looks like something out of a sci-fi film. Fitzpatrick’s intention is not to compete with regular taxis but with trains, intercity bus services and short-haul air travel carriers.
Their first objective is to offer short, piloted commercial flights of 100-150km, which is roughly the distance from London to Bristol, or Sydney to Newcastle. The next phase in their evolution will introduce vehicles capable of doubling that distance, allowing them to offer transportation throughout continental Europe.
Ultimately, Vertical Aerospace wants to progress to a third stage where they are able to provide fully automated flights on demand.
Their plan will take some years to be a reality, as both new technology and novel legislation will have to be developed to meet this new offering. But the road – ahem, sky – has been paved and the company has already taken its first steps.
Last June, the aerospace startup got approval from UK regulatory bodies to perform their first test flight. The stylish unmanned giant drone managed to gently take off and fly for a few minutes over a runway at Cotswolds Airport, located near the village of Kemble in Gloucestershire, England.
The Vertical Aerospace eVTOL is able to take off and land vertically like a helicopter, with the added ability to fly like a plane at cruising altitude. It’s capable of hitting top speeds of 80 km/h, does not require long runways and will passengers with carbon-free air travel.
They’re not the only ones exploring this new territory, though. Uber, Airbus, Rolls Royce and Netherlands-based company Pal-V are all developing their own prototypes.
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