British eVTOL Claims to Have the World's Lightest Electric Powertrain, Flies at 200 MPH

The VA-X4 eVTOL features the world's lightest and safest electric powertrain 6 photos
Photo: Bristow
While most eyes are on the infamous “space race” that’s been stirring up numerous debates in the public sphere, a different kind of “race” is also quietly unfolding, and that is the flying taxi/eVTOL one.
Aviation companies all over the world are developing electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOLs), each claiming to be the most innovative one. But, until specific regulations are fully established, and all of these companies get the necessary funds to actually develop their products, it’s mostly about marketing.

On the other hand, the companies with a longer history in aviation could have better chances of getting flying taxis up in the air, compared to startups.

One of them is the UK-based Bristow, specializing in helicopters for search and rescue (SAR services), both commercial and public. The vertical flight specialist has recently joined forces with a younger company, Vertical Aerospace, in order to begin operating a piloted, fully electric eVTOL.

Called VA-X4, the eVTOL developed by Vertical is an air taxi that can transport four passengers (plus the pilot), with zero emissions and zero noise – it’s supposed to be a hundred times quieter than a helicopter, both when cruising and hovering. Boasting a 200 mph (174 knots) top speed and a range of over 100 miles (161 km), the VA-X4 looks like one of the most efficient eVTOLs on the market.

So, what makes this new eVTOL so powerful? One of its leading features is the advanced avionics, based on the flight control technologies of the F-35B, the supersonic VTOL version of the famous F-35. This makes it easier to maneuver and offers a high level of automation, even though the VA-X4 is piloted.

Another innovation that Vertical says it brings is the one MW electric powertrain. Developed together with Rolls-Royce, it’s presented as the lightest and safest powertrain of its kind in the world. In addition, Vertical’s proprietary battery system is also designed to reduce the overall weight, without minimizing efficiency.

Bristow has pre-ordered 25 VA-X4 eVTOLs from Vertical, with the option for 25 more aircraft, and is now working with the aircraft manufacturer on the future development process, including airspace legal requirements, fleet size, and infrastructure.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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