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Vertical Aerospace gives VX4 programme update following accident earlier this month

Vertical Aerospace has today provided an update on its VX4 development programme following the crash of its prototype earlier this month (https://www.urbanairmobilitynews.com/air-taxis/vertical-aerospace-vx4-prototype-damaged-in-uncrewed-test-flight-incident/).

According to a press release: “Vertical concluded its remote thrustborne flight test campaign in July 2023, as the first full-scale VX4 prototype reached its target speed of 40kts (70 kmph), demonstrating exceptional overall stability and control. Performance targets were generally exceeded by 10-30% during hover and low speed flights. The prototype performed especially well in sustained hover, typically the most challenging regime for a VTOL aircraft, where it maintained level flight for longer than anticipated. The aim of these thrustborne flight tests was to verify acceptable stability, battery efficiency and control characteristics, aerodynamics, structural loads, performance and vibration throughout this speed range – all of which were achieved.

“Vertical continued further uncrewed flight tests following the completion of the remote thrustborne flight test campaign. The purpose of these was to understand how the aircraft performed outside of its expected operating conditions before the aircraft’s planned retirement.

“During one of these test flights, an unexpected fault occurred causing the aircraft to enter a stable descent, before being damaged on impact with the ground. Vertical completed a swift and thorough investigation and submitted a report to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). Vertical’s investigation identified the root cause to be a fault with a propeller. This early generation propeller had already been redesigned prior to the incident, with the issue fully resolved ahead of the next phase of testing. Further recommendations by the investigation are being implemented by Vertical.

“Vertical believes transparency and openness is fundamental to the safety of aerospace. It therefore intends to provide a further full update to the industry on the incident once the AAIB’s investigation has concluded.

“Supported by the learnings from the completed thrustborne campaign, the VX4 and its certification programme remains on track with no changes to timelines. The assembly of a second significantly more advanced full-scale VX4 prototype is underway at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre. This demonstrator is expected to be ready to fly early next year. Its components will include technology from most of Vertical’s certification partners: Honeywell, GKN Aerospace, Hanwha, Solvay, Leonardo and Molicel. An additional, identical full-scale aircraft has also now been approved and is expected to be flying in the second half of 2024.

“These upgraded full-scale aircrafts’ structures and subsystems will be tested in line with certification standards. Both will require rigorous regulatory oversight, including a Permit to Fly from the UK Civil Aviation Authority, to progress to piloted flying.”

For more information

https://investor.vertical-aerospace.com/news/news-details/2023/Vertical-Aerospaces-VX4-Programme-Moves-to-the-Next-Phase/default.aspx

(Image: Vertical Aerospace)

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