The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

London Heathrow Airport Makes Plans For eVTOL Aircraft Operations

London Heathrow Airport is making plans to integrate eVTOL aircraft operations through a partnership with Vertical Aerospace. Through a new collaborative project announced on October 25, the companies will explore what steps need to be taken for new models like Vertical’s four-passenger VA-X4 to begin operations at the major airline hub from the mid-2020s. The scope of the work covers anticipated regulatory changes, maximizing the creation of new jobs, and minimizing any impact on the local community.

According to Vertical, the VA-X4 will have a cruise speed of 200 mph and be able to fly from Heathrow on the west side of London to the heart of the city’s financial district in 12 minutes. Due to heavy road congestion, the 18-mile journey can often take an hour or more by car.

Virgin Atlantic, one of several operators to have placed pre-order commitments for the aircraft, intends to use it to develop a network of short-haul scheduled flights of up to around 100 miles across the UK. These could potentially include services in and out of Heathrow to connect with its intercontinental services. Virgin holds options for 150 of the 1,350 commitments logged so far by the UK-based start-up.

American Airlines is another launch customer for the VA-X4 and it intends to use the aircraft for services such as transfers to and from major hubs like New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Other customers include leasing group Avolon, Bristow Group, Iberojet, and Japan’s Marubeni Corporation.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Vertical, a global champion in emissions-free aviation,” said Heathrow Airport’s chief strategy officer Chris Annetts. “This emerging technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution on local roads while providing passengers with a best-in-class experience on the cutting edge of modern technology. We look forward to exploring the possibilities of zero-emissions flight together.”

Expansion of operations at Heathrow has proven to be politically contentious for several years, with plans to build a third runway having been delayed by legal action and the government apparently unsure as to whether the plan is at odds with its commitment to achieving a net-zero carbon economy in the UK by 2050.