Leonardo, Vertical Aerospace to collaborate on Fuselage development
February 16, 2022 By Helicopters Staff
Vertical Aerospace entered into a joint development program with Leonardo for the design, testing, manufacture and supply of the carbon composite fuselage for Vertical’s VX4 electric aircraft. The collaboration is for an initial six certification aircraft but Vertical explains this could scale up to the production of 2,000 VX4s per year, to meet its pre-order book.
Vertical and Leonardo will work together on optimizing lightweight composite structures, modular design, systems installation, and structural testing for the co-development of the aircraft’s fuselage.
Vertical has what it believes is the largest conditional pre-order book (by value) in the eVTOL industry, of up to 1,350 aircraft worth US$5.4 billion from American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet, including pre-order options from Virgin Atlantic and Marubeni, and through Avolon’s placements, airlines JAL and Gol.
Leonardo points to its long-established expertise in composite aerostructures development and manufacturing on civil and defense programs, as well as its close relationship with Vertical’s strategic composite materials supplier, Solvay. Vertical and Solvay are jointly developing advanced materials and manufacturing technologies that will enable high volume manufacture of the VX4.
Vertical’s partnership with Leonardo builds on its ecosystem of partners, including Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, Solvay, GKN and Microsoft. Vertical expects to begin the VX4’s test flight programme later in 2022.
With a four-passenger capacity, the VX4 is expected to have a range of over 100 miles and to reach top speeds of up to 200 mph.