American Airlines, Microsoft Invest in Zero-Carbon Aircraft Company Vertical Aerospace
UK-based engineering and aeronautical company Vertical Aerospace announced today investments from a series of aerospace, technology and venture capital companies including American Airlines, Microsoft’s M12 VC fund, Avolon, Honeywell, and Rolls-Royce. The companies will invest through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction, as Vertical gains a public listing through a planned merger with SPAC Broadstone Acquisition Corp.
Vertical is developing the VA-X4, a zero-carbon, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Scheduled for its first test flight later this year, the VA-X4 can carry four passengers and a pilot, and fly at speeds up to 200 mph over a range of over 100 miles. Certification of the air craft is anticipated as early as 2024.
The transaction marks the next step in the emerging race to provide low carbon aviation solutions. Last month, eVTOL startup BETA Technologies announced that it had raised $368 million in a private funding round led by Fidelity and joined by Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund, and Honeywell and mobility supplier DENSO announced the establishment of an alliance aiming to develop and manufacture electric propulsion systems for aircraft. Earlier this year, United Airlines announced an agreement with eVTOL developer Archer to assist in the development of the battery-powered, short-haul aircraft.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO and Founder, said:
“This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero carbon aircraft that most people will fly on.”
Along with the investments, Vertical announced agreements for up to 1,000 aircraft with American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and aircraft leasing company Avolon.
Derek Kerr, Chief Financial Officer at American Airlines, said:
“Emerging technologies are critical in the race to reduce carbon emissions and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft. For years, American has led the industry in investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Today’s partnership is another example of that commitment, and an investment in the future of air mobility. We are excited about the prospect of what this could mean for our customers, and our company.”