UK eVTOL developer Vertical Aerospace secures key approval extension from CAA

Vertical Aerospace VX4
Vertical Aerospace

The team at Vertical Aerospace are celebrating some good news as the electric vehicle takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer sets its sights on achieving Type Certification from five regulators.  

On July 10, 2024, Vertical Aerospace announced that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had expanded the developer’s Design Organization Approval (DOA) which will help streamline the certification process.   

The expanded DOA will allow Vertical’s “own engineers to sign off compliance of an increasing number of technical areas, including further areas related to the flight control, avionics and electrical systems”. 

The approval demonstrates that the CAA has growing confidence in Vertical to carry out certification activities as the Bristol-based company develops its VX4 eVTOL aircraft. 

Vertical said it will now work with the CAA to expand its DOA privileges that will enable the regulator to rely on the developer’s approval for more activities.  

Key to this will be activities related to Vertical’s pursuit of a Permit to fly for piloted flight tests on the VX4 program at its Flight Test Centre at Cotswold Airport (GBA). 

In March 2023, Vertical became the first eVTOL developer to be granted a DOA by the CAA, which authorizes Vertical to conduct design activities and issue design approvals within the DOA’s scope of approval. 

EASA and the CAA collaborate to help VX4 certification 

In other positive developments for Vertical, the CAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said they will work further together on the certification of VX4. 

The extended collaboration will allow for both the CAA and EASA’s certification experts to apply common standards setting the path for concurrent certification. 

In 2023, the CAA announced its intention to adopt EASA’s Means of Compliance to SC-VTOL, the standards against which European and UK manufacturers design eVTOLs. 

“This is another positive step forward in recognising that Vertical has the engineering capability to obtain certification for the VX4 aircraft. Our world-class engineering and design teams, combined with our partnership with leading aerospace companies and our state-of-the-art facilities in the UK, set us up well to achieve certification to the highest safety standards in the world,” Stuart Simpson, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said. 

Simpson added: “At the same time, seeing regulators like the CAA and EASA working closely together paves the way for a more seamless, faster route to certification. I’m extremely proud of our team in getting us to this point as we continue this amazing journey to make electric flight a reality.”   

In July 2022, Vertical Aerospace announced that it has confirmed delivery slots for 50 eVTOL aircraft and the commitment of associated pre-delivery payments with American Airlines.   

The deal was an extension on a conditional pre-order of up to 250 VX4s, Vertical’s eVTOL, with an additional 100 options in June 2021.   

As well as American Airlines, customers include Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, Iberojet and FLYINGGROUP, as well as Japan Airlines (JAL), Gol, Air Greenland, Gozen Holding and AirAsia, through Avolon’s VX4 placements.   

Vertical is unique in that the company has active certification validation projects with five regulators, including from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), EASA, UK CAA, National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC), and the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB). 

“This will ensure the VX4 aircraft performs to the highest and most stringent global safety standards,” the developer said.  

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