The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

EASA Will Validate UK Certification of Vertical Aerospace's VX4 eVTOL Aircraft

Europe's air safety regulator, EASA, has agreed to concurrently validate the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s anticipated type certification of Vertical Aerospace’s four-passenger VX4 eVTOL aircraft. The decision, which the company reported on April 21, should make it possible for the vehicle to be ready to operate in the UK and the rest of Europe beginning in 2025.

UK-based Vertical Aerospace also announced the appointment of former EASA certification director Trevor Woods as its regulatory affairs director. In addition, the company also said it anticipates that the CAA will issue the Design Organization Approval (DOA) that it needs as part of the type certification process and preparations to start manufacturing.

The VX4 will first complete UK type certification, with EASA then expected to accept this approval concurrently. Until the UK’s Brexit departure from the European Union in January 2020, the country had been an EASA member state.

Vertical Aerospace said it is also in dialogue with regulators in other countries that are expected to be early adopters of eVTOL aircraft. These include the U.S., Japan, Brazil, and Singapore, and the company said it hopes that these regulators will permit fairly swift validation of the concurrent UK/EASA type certification.

Vertical expects that later this year the CAA will approve the certification basis that it recently submitted to the agency. This document was based on EASA’s established Special Conditions-VTOL certification basis.

The CAA has accepted Vertical’s three nominated accountable managers subject to the so-called Form 4 requirements that are part of the DOA process. These individuals are head of engineering Eric Samson, head of certification Paul Harper, and head of independent systems monitoring Paul Cotton.

“I am delighted to join Vertical, the eVTOL manufacturer that, I believe, has the edge on its competitors,” commented Woods. “Its considerable in-house engineering expertise, matched with its unrivaled industrial partnerships from proven tier-one aerospace suppliers such as Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, GKN, and Leonardo, lend significant momentum to its certification efforts. I, myself, am looking forward to flying in the VX4 at the earliest opportunity.”

In October 2021, Vertical said that the start of flight testing with its first full-scale, production-conforming VX4 prototype had been pushed back from late 2021 into 2022. It acknowledged that the postponement is due to production delays related to one particular tool required to manufacture the first prototype. 

“To have someone of Trevor’s experience join the team is a boost for us and our certification efforts,” said Harper. “We are pleased with the status of our certification program and look forward to reaching a number of meaningful milestones in our activity over the coming months, including the launch of our test flight campaign.”