Friday 11 June 2021 10:49 am

Rolls-Royce and Virgin Atlantic back air taxi firm Vertical Aerospace

Rolls-Royce and Virgin Atlantic are among firms to have bet on electric flying taxi firm Vertical Aerospace, which announced it would go public in the US in a SPAC deal last night.

The British firm, which has already secured $4bn (£2.8bn) worth of pre-orders for 1,000 of its aircraft with firms such as Avolon and American Airlines.

Virgin Atlantic has agreed a pre-order option for 150 of the aircraft, which are “near silent”, zero emissions, and can fly at up to 200mph.

The firm will list through a deal with blank cheque firm Broadstone, with an equity value of $2.2bn. Proceeds from the deal are expected to total $394m.

In addition to American and Avolon, Rolls-Royce and Microsoft will also invest in the firm, which was founded by Stephen Fitzpatrick in 2016.

Best known in the UK as the founder of challenger energy brand Ovo, which has successfully shaken up the once-sterile energy market, Fitzpatrick said that electrification would be as revolutionary a change for aviation as the jet engine.

“This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century; electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago”, he said.

“Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero carbon aircraft that most people will fly on.”

Rolls boss Warren East said: “We are delighted to build on our relationship with Vertical Aerospace as they take this strategic step to deliver eVTOL aircraft to a global market.

“Rolls-Royce is the leading supplier of all-electric and hybrid-electric power and propulsion systems for aviation and this exciting opportunity demonstrates our joint ambitions to lead the way in the new Urban Air Mobility market.”