Leonardo teams up with Vertical Aerospace on VX4 electric aircraft programme

©Vertical VX4 electric aircraft

Vertical Aerospace (Vertical) has announced a joint development programme with Italian aerospace, defence and security specialist Leonardo to design, test, manufacture and supply the carbon composite fuselage for the Vertical VX4 electric aircraft.

The two companies will concentrate on optimising composite structures, modular design, systems installation and structural testing for the co-development of the aircraft’s fuselage for a minimum six certification aircraft, up to the successful certification of the VX4. In addition, the agreement includes the option to scale up to the manufacture of the currently 2,000 electric aircraft, including 1,350 pre-ordered units valued at US$5.4 billion (£4 billion) for carriers such as American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet.

Leonardo has extensive experience working on composite aerostructure development and has a close relationship with Vertical’s strategic composite materials supplier, Solvay. Together, Vertical and Solvay are developing advanced materials and manufacturing technologies that will enable high-volume manufacture of the VX4. The near silent, entirely electric, four-passenger piloted VX4 aircraft is anticipated to have a range in excess of 100 miles and should reach a top speed of 200mph, while with zero operating emissions the VX4 will also have a low cost per passenger mile, on a par with a standard taxi.  

Michael Cervenka, President of Vertical said: “Vertical is pioneering electric aviation and is on a mission to transform the way people travel. I have been hugely impressed by Leonardo’s highly innovative and industry leading technical and manufacturing capabilities and our partnership has got off to a flying start. I’m thrilled that Leonardo will be joining us in this journey. We have a market-leading pre-order book for our VX4, and this partnership will ensure that we can scale the programme to meet demand.” Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s General Manager, said: “Advanced air mobility is part of Leonardo’s mandate to innovate using our cutting edge, human-centred technology and industrialisation expertise. We’re proud to collaborate with Vertical as part of our strategic vision in this brand-new sector.”

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