An aviation start-up has completed the first UK test of an untethered vehicle at Cotswold Airport (formerly Kemble Airfield), where the electric aircraft hit 40kts/74km in a remotely-piloted thrustborne flight.
A thrustborne flight refers to when the aircraft is lifted by the thrust created through its own propulsion system.
The electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft is one of several being developed by companies around the world that hopes to use urban taxis as an alternative to land transport.
A key benefit to using a vertical take-off aircraft is that it can operate without a runway, making it more appropriate for urban mobility use cases.
The Bristol-based developer of the aircraft, Vertical Aerospace, has reported that the VX4 (the vehicle used in the test flight) has a top speed of 200mph (322km/h) and produces minimal noise and zero emissions.
It has also said that the VX4 is the only full-scale eVTOL aircraft in the UK and that, during the flight, it was able to hover, fly and land solely through the power of its electric battery-powered propulsion system.
The start-up was founded in 2016 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, who had the vision ‘to create the most advanced eVTOL in the world’.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said: “We’re delighted to announce that Vertical has successfully flown our full-scale electric aircraft at Cotswold Airport, reaching our target speed of 40kts…through a series of rigorous, remotely-piloted ‘thrustborne’ test flights.
“The only full-scale eVTOL aircraft in the UK, the VX4 lifted, hovered, flew and landed, powered solely by the cutting-edge battery-powered propulsion system.
“This is a very proud moment and a huge milestone for Vertical and our team, whose enormous dedication and hard work has made this possible.”
Cotswold airport is a private aviation facility located in Gloucestershire, England. Based on the fact it is situated away from controlled airspace, aircraft being tested at the site have free movement.