Vertical Aerospace today claimed that its second electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype, which has conducted around a dozen full-power test flights since achieving a first flight on August 22, has become the first eVTOL aircraft to be capable of carrying a payload of 250 kg (551 pounds). The UK start-up company has named the prototype Seraph, while explaining that this model will serve purely as a technology integration platform for a third, passenger-carrying, version that it intends to start flying in 2020.
The as-yet-unnamed, all-electric, passenger eVTOL aircraft is expected to achieve type certification in 2023. It will feature a fly-by-wire control system provided by Honeywell Aerospace and flight testing of the second prototype is intended to be used for systems integration work.
Vertical Aerospace also announced the creation of a new Oxford-based business unit called Vertical Advanced Engineering. This has been created following the July 2019 acquisition of automotive engineering company MGI, led by Formula 1 motorsport veteran Mike Gascoyne. This adds 20 engineers to the Vertical payroll, which now totals 70 people, including numerous aerospace engineers, such as COO Michael Cervenka, who is a former Rolls-Royce executive.
Test flights with the Seraph have confirmed the aircraft can operate at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h). Vertical Aerospace is targeting range with a pilot and two passengers of approximately 100 miles.