UK company Vertical Aerospace has completed the first tethered flight test of its VX4 eVTOL air taxi, making it the first British developer to manufacture a new aircraft in more than two decades.  

The flight test was part of Vertical Aerospace’s six-stage flight test program. According to the manufacturer, testing “saw the piloted aircraft lifted from the ground under tethered conditions”.  

Aiming to prove that the VX4 is capable of meeting stringent air safety standards, Aerospace chose to perform the maiden take-off with a pilot onboard.  

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Eight sets of aerodynamic propellers lifted the eVTOL at hover-thrust while it was tethered to the ground for safety.  However, before putting a pilot into the VX4 cabin, the manufacturer had to receive a permit to do so from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).  

“This moment represents a small step for Vertical Aerospace, but it’s a giant leap forward for British aviation. For more than 100 years the UK has been a global leader in aviation and today, in the 21st century, Britain is leading the world in the development of zero carbon aircraft,” Vertical Aerospace chief executive Stephen Fitzpatrick said in a statement released on September 26, 2022.  

The VX4 flight test program is expected to run for several months, during which the eVTOL aircraft will demonstrate its abilities to reach higher altitudes and speeds, and transition from vertical to horizontal forward flight.  

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What is the VX4?  

Announced in 2020, the VX4 is being developed to become a piloted, zero emissions all-electric aircraft, capable of reaching a top speed of more than 320 kilometers per hour (around 200 miles per hour) while flying distances of up to 161 kilometers (more than 100 miles). The eVTOL aircraft will have the capacity for four passengers and a single pilot.  

Vertical Aerospace claims that the VX4 is a hundred times quieter and safer than a regular helicopter.  

Having already received more than 1,400 pre-orders from air carriers, such as American Airlines (A1G) (AAL), Virgin Atlantic, Japan Airlines, and Air Asia, the manufacturer aims to receive the necessary certification for the VX4 by 2025.  

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