Ver­ti­cal Aero­space and NATS — the UK’s lead­ing provider of air traf­fic con­trol ser­vices — have released a white paper high­light­ing the eco­nom­ic and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits of Advanced Aer­i­al Mobil­i­ty and elec­tric pas­sen­ger flights.

Enti­tled The Future of Advanced Aer­i­al Mobil­i­ty, the white paper also fea­tures con­tri­bu­tions from Ver­ti­cal’s ecosys­tem part­ners Avolon and Vir­gin Atlantic, as well as Sky­ports and Heathrow Air­port.

The doc­u­ment goes into detail about the improved con­nec­tiv­i­ty and pos­si­ble inter­ci­ty routes that can open up the UK, with Ver­ti­cal putting for­ward five exam­ples of zero-emis­sion flights, with each of them solv­ing spe­cif­ic, real-world trav­el prob­lems across the coun­try. They include Liv­er­pool to Hull, Aberdeen to Edin­burgh, Belfast to Glas­gow, Cardiff to Ply­mouth and Cam­bridge to Heathrow Air­port.

To put some of these flights into con­text, a jour­ney from Liv­er­pool to Hull on Ver­ti­cal’s VA-X4 eVTOL air­craft — which is on course to be cer­ti­fied by 2024 — would take 50 min­utes, as opposed to tak­ing more than two hours by car or three hours via train.

While a flight from Cam­bridge — the heart of the UK’s high-tech indus­try — to Heathrow Air­port is expect­ed to be a 28-minute flight at the esti­mat­ed cost of £58 per pas­sen­ger. This is in com­par­i­son to pay­ing approx­i­mate­ly more than £100 for a taxi which takes 90 min­utes, or £52 for a train tick­et but which takes near­ly two hours.

Stephen Fitz­patrick, CEO and Founder of Ver­ti­cal, said “The UK has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to be at the fore­front of elec­tric flight and the clear ben­e­fits it will bring in improv­ing con­nec­tiv­i­ty, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty and cre­at­ing high­ly-skilled jobs whilst low­er­ing both con­ges­tion and car­bon emis­sions. The UK needs to act now to grasp this prize. Our white paper seeks to engage those stake­hold­ers that can be a part of our elec­tric air mobil­i­ty future.

“The UK can lead this trans­porta­tion rev­o­lu­tion. To build and main­tain that lead we need gov­ern­ment to sup­port. Clear, prag­mat­ic reg­u­la­tion, guar­an­tee­ing safe­ty and encour­ag­ing rapid uptake.”

With a future trans­port solu­tion enabled by eVTOL air­craft fly­ing from exist­ing air­ports, rur­al loca­tions and new inner-city bases, Ver­ti­cal has also called on the UK Gov­ern­ment to take action to enable the coun­try to seize the oppor­tu­ni­ties this new era of avi­a­tion will bring.

Accord­ing to research in the Future Flight Road Map and Vision pub­lished in August 2021, gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics show the advanced air mobil­i­ty mar­ket will lift UK GDP by 1.8 per cent by 2030. Addi­tion­al­ly, ADS has said 88 per cent of the UK’s aero­space jobs are locat­ed out of Lon­don and the South East of Eng­land, which shows this is a coun­try-wide lev­el­ling up oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Ver­ti­cal believes the UK and the devolved gov­ern­ments, city may­ors, local author­i­ties and reg­u­la­tors should com­mit to sup­port­ing com­mer­cial elec­tric flight by 2025 if the UK wants to become a leader in this space and the emerg­ing sus­tain­able avi­a­tion indus­try. Many cities includ­ing Paris, Los Ange­les, Osa­ka and Sin­ga­pore have already com­mit­ted to launch­ing ser­vices before then.

Fol­low­ing on from its white paper, Ver­ti­cal is call­ing for:

  1. A com­mit­ment for elec­tric flight to be pos­si­ble across the UK by 2025.
  2. A com­mit­ment from the Depart­ment for Trans­port and the Civ­il Avi­a­tion Author­i­ty to deliv­er a safe oper­at­ing frame­work by 2024, to allow com­mer­cial elec­tric flights above Lon­don, Glas­gow, Belfast, Man­ches­ter, Liv­er­pool, Cardiff, Bris­tol and oth­er UK cities. This would include a route to air­craft cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and reforms to air­space man­age­ment, avi­a­tion secu­ri­ty and flight access for elec­tric flight oper­a­tions, as well as frame­works for cer­ti­fy­ing, reg­u­lat­ing and licens­ing ver­ti­ports, charg­ing infra­struc­ture and pilots.
  3. Incen­tivis­ing and sup­port­ing the con­struc­tion of elec­tric air­craft assem­bly and gigafac­to­ries in UK regions by 2024 to allow this emerg­ing sus­tain­able avi­a­tion indus­try to estab­lish itself in the UK.

Advanced air mobil­i­ty is tak­ing off world­wide, with Ver­ti­cal already receiv­ing up to 1,350 pre-orders for its VA-X4 air­craft worth an esti­mat­ed $5.4 bil­lion. Vir­gin Atlantic has pre-order options for 150 of these air­craft and plans to devel­op a short-haul eVTOL air­craft net­work with Ver­ti­cal, which would look to con­nect UK air­port hubs start­ing with Lon­don Heathrow as well as Man­ches­ter and Lon­don Gatwick. 

Ver­ti­cal is build­ing its VA-X4 demon­stra­tor in the UK with top-tier tech­ni­cal part­ners, includ­ing Rolls-Royce and GKN, as well as Hon­ey­well, Microsoft and Solvay.

To read the white paper in full, click here