Rolls-Royce’s electrical power system will be used in Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft, representing the first commercial deal in the urban air mobility market for the British aerospace and defence company.

The company will design the system architecture of the whole electrical propulsion system, which includes its latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution and monitoring system that will support operations.

Around 150 Rolls-Royce engineers – based in countries including Germany, Hungary, the UK and USA – will now work with the Vertical Aerospace team on developing the aircraft, which is aiming to be one of the world’s first certified eVTOLs.

Rob Watson, Director – Rolls-Royce Electrical, said: “We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft.

“This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”

Vertical Aerospace has already flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes and the build of VA-X4 will begin shortly, with assembly taking place in the UK and the first flight happening in late 2021.

When operational, the VA-X4 will carry up to four passengers for 120 miles at cruise speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. Using distributed propulsion and large open rotors, that have significantly lower tip speeds than on a helicopter, Vertical Aerospace has said the aircraft can achieve noise levels 100 times quieter than a helicopter. It is on course to certify in 2024.

Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace said: “We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft.

“This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”

Electrification of flight is an important part of Rolls-Royce’s sustainability strategy and supports its aim to contribute to a net zero carbon future by 2050. Rolls-Royce Electrical is a specialist team whose focus is to develop sustainable, efficient and quieter technology for aviation, marine, land and industrial applications.

Rolls-Royce also recently announced a partnership with Tecnam and major worldwide aviation players for the development of the P-Volt: an all-electric, twin electric motor, short and medium range passenger aircraft, designed for maximum versatility and safety, powered by renewable energy.