Vertical Aerospace Intends to Become Publicly Traded via Merger with Broadstone Acquisition

Vertical AerospaceGroup (Vertical), a UK-headquartered engineering and aeronautical business developing electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has entered into a definitive agreement for a business combination with Broadstone Acquisition Corp.(Broadstone), a special purpose acquisition company.

The transaction will result in Vertical becoming a publicly-traded company, with a pro forma equity value of approximately $2.2 billion. Vertical will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange following the combination, which is expected to close in the second half of 2021, under the ticker EVTL. Vertical is also announcing today investments from American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell and Rolls-Royce, who have invested in the PIPE and are part of Vertical’s strategic partner ecosystem; Microsoft’s M12, 40 North and Rocket Internet SE have also invested in the business. Commercial partnerships and individual conditional pre-orders have also been agreed with American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Avolon for up to 1,000 aircraft in total, providing a direct route to market and opportunity to work together on key go-to-market workstreams.

Vertical says their mission is to make air travel personal, on-demand and carbon-free through designing, manufacturing, selling and servicing one of the world’s best eVTOL aircraft, the VA-X4. It will travel at speeds over 200mph, be near silent when in flight, produce zero emissions and at low cost per passenger mile. The VA-X4 is expected to be certified to the same standards as large commercial airliners and therefore is expected to be 100x safer than a helicopter.

Vertical intends to certify the VA-X4 to European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards – the most stringent global standards – in order to unlock a large UAM TAM of $1 trillion by 2040, with an upside TAM of $4.4 trillion by 20401.

Vertical was founded in 2016 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, an established entrepreneur best known as the founder of the Ovo Group, a leading energy company determined to create a world without carbon and which includes Ovo Energy, the UK’s second-biggest energy retailer with revenues of $6.5billion.Stephen remains the majority shareholder in this business.

During the past five years, Vertical says it has focused on building an experienced and senior team in the eVTOL industry who “have more than 1,200 combined years of experience, and have certified and supported over 30 different civil and military aircraft and propulsion systems.”

Their team includes:

•Michael Cervenka, former head of Future Technologiesat Rolls-Royce

•Eric Samson, former VP Engineering and chief engineer at General Dynamics

•Tim Williams, former chief engineer of Rolls-Royce

•Madhu Bhabuta, former chief technology officer of the UK’s Ministry of Defence

•Dr.Limhi Somerville, former technical manager at Jaguar Land Rover responsible for the cell facility, battery functional safety and advanced cell development

•Paul Harper, former UK chief airworthiness engineer at Airbus

•Eduardo Dominguez, former CEO of Airbus’ Urban Mobility.

American Airlines has agreed to pre-order, subject to certain conditions precedent and future agreed upon milestones, up to 250 aircraft, and an option to order an additional 100 aircraft. Avolon has agreed to pre-orde rup to 310 aircraft with an option for a further 190, and Virgin Atlantic has an option to purchase between 50 and 150 aircraft. In addition, all parties will work together towards the prompt certification and deployment of aircraft in commercial operations.In the United States of America, American Airlines expects to work with Vertical on passenger operations and infrastructure development. In the United Kingdom, Virgin Atlantic and Vertical expect to work together to explore the joint venture launch of a Virgin Atlantic branded short haul eVTOL network, including operations and infrastructure development.

“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'” Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO and founder, said. “[This] announcement brings together someof the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world andtogether we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero carbon aircraft that most people will fly on. The United Kingdom is already a global leader in aerospace innovation and we believe Vertical Aerospace will be the British engineering champion to drive the aviation industry forward.”

Derek Kerr, CFO of American Airlines said, “Emerging technologies are critical in the race to reduce carbon emissions and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft. For years,American has led the industry in investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Today’s partnership is another example of that commitment, and an investment in the future of air mobility. We are excited about the prospect of what this could mean for our customers, and our company.”

American Airlines Invests in the Future of Urban Air Mobility

American Airlines announced it will invest in Vertical Aerospace, a UK-headquartered engineering and aeronautical business developing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. With the investment, American is demonstrating its focus on emerging technologies to reduce carbon emissions and investing in innovative ways that could improve the customer journey.

As part of its investment in Vertical, American has agreed to pre-order, subject to certain future agreed upon milestones and other terms, up to 250 aircraft, representing a potential pre-order commitment of $1 billion, and an option to order an additional 100 aircraft. The airline also expects to make a $25 million investment in Vertical through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction. Vertical is developing the VA-X4, a zero-carbon aircraft that can carry four passengers and a pilot, and fly at speeds up to 200 mph over a range of over 100 miles.

“Emerging technologies are critical in the race to reduce carbon emissions and we are excited to partner with Vertical to develop the next generation of electric aircraft,” said Derek Kerr, CFO at American. “For years, American has led the industry in investing in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Today’s partnership is another example of that commitment, and an investment in the future of air mobility. We are excited about the prospect of what this could mean for our customers, and our company.”

These aircraft could potentially transport customers quickly around urban city centers and to airports. Vertical plans to conduct its first test flight of the VA-X4 later this year, with certification of the aircraft as early as 2024.

“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,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical chief executive and founder. “As we all work towards a future beyond fossil fuels, we are delighted to be partnering with American Airlines. We share their passion for innovation and excellence and believe that by working together we will help make carbon free flight a reality for millions of passengers.”

American’s partnership with Vertical is the latest in the airline’s commitment to sustainability. The airline’s recent efforts include:

  • Invested $24 billion since 2013 in 595 more fuel-efficient aircraft as part of the most extensive fleet renewal effort in the aviation industry’s history.
  • Over the same period, American retired a similar number of less fuel-efficient planes, including retiring more than 150 older and less fuel-efficient aircraft in 2020.
  • Committed to purchase 9 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel over three years from Neste, a leading producer of renewable products.
  • Engaged American’s customers in boosting demand for sustainable aviation fuel through agreements with Deloitte and Kuehne+Nagel.
  • Invested in new technology to help our aircraft operate more efficiently.

Lilium to Work with Honeywell on Avionics/Flight Controls for 7-Seater Lilium Jet

Lilium says it has engaged with Honeywell to develop the 7-Seater Lilium Jet’s avionics and flight control systems.

Honeywell’s Compact Fly-by-Wire System will act as the flight control system on the all-electric 7-Seater Lilium Jet, responsible for controlling its moveable parts, including the 36 control surfaces and ducted fans that will provide its high levels of maneuvrability in every stage of flight.

Honeywell, one of the first major aerospace manufacturers to create a dedicated Urban Air Mobility team, has designed a flight control system that draws on their decades of experience providing such systems for commercial airliners.

“The avionics and flight control computers from Honeywell will be a key element for the Lilium Jet’s electronic architecture,” said Yves Yemsi, chief program officer, Lilium. “Honeywell will integrate an advanced flight deck tailored for the Lilium Jet as the central interface to the pilot with a vehicle management computer and a high integrity flight controls computing platform to provide a state-of-the-art Fly-By-Wire solution for the Lilium Jet.”

Honeywell will also work to deliver the next generation integrated avionics system, which will provide a simplified user interface for the pilot to fly the Lilium Jet. The selection of Honeywell’s next-generation UAM avionics system is the result of ongoing collaboration between Lilium and Honeywell to converge on the specific technical requirements suitable for the Lilium Jet. The avionics system is designed to reduce training time and will support operation by a single pilot, freeing up greater passenger capacity.

“At Honeywell, we believe in the promise of the Urban Air Mobility segment and we see the enormous potential it has to bring about a new age of aviation and forever transform the way we think about flight and transportation,” said Stéphane Fymat, vice president and general manager of Urban Air Mobility, Honeywell. “Lilium shares that vision with us, which has enabled us to forge a fantastic relationship. We’re extremely excited for our avionics to be on board the Lilium Jet, where they will help ensure not only safe operation, but also make it easier for pilots to fly and provide a more comfortable journey for those onboard.”

In addition to its selection as a provider of the flight control system for the 7-Seater Lilium Jet, Honeywell is also participating in the previously announced common share PIPE offering in connection with Lilium’s SPAC transaction with Qell.

“Honeywell has a decades-long track record of developing and certifying avionics and safety systems for leading aerospace companies and has worked alongside Lilium to develop a bespoke solution for our aircraft,” said Yemsi. “We are proud that Honeywell is joining our roster of world-class aviation partners and also as one of our investors as we prepare to launch commercial operations in 2024.”

Following Toray Industries, Aciturri, and Lufthansa Aviation Training, Honeywell is the latest in a series of world-class Lilium suppliers whose technology and services have been certified in aerospace around the world for decades. They are joined by infrastructure leaders, such as the Tavistock Development Company, and Ferrovial, a leading airport operator, who will support the development of up to 14 vertiports in Florida.

First B777-300ER Passenger to Cargo Cabin Conversion by JADE Enters into Service

Jamco Aero Design and Engineering (JADE), a subsidiary of JAMCO Corporation (JAMCO) and Singapore Airlines Engineering Company (SIAEC), has completed its first passenger to cargo cabin (P2C) conversion program on a Boeing B777-300ER for launch customer Singapore Airlines (SIA). This achievement adds to JADE’s growing list of aircraft retrofitting capabilities and further reaffirms its position as the leading turnkey aircraft cabin interior specialist in Asia.

Global travel restrictions in relation to COVID-19 have caused air travel demand to plunge. In response, many passenger airlines pivoted by launching cargo-only flights using passenger aircraft with cargo secured on passenger seats. Although this approach allows the solution to be deployed immediately, the cargo allowed to be carried in the cabin is limited by the size of the seats. Airlines also have to bear the risk of damage caused to the seats during cargo loading.

The solution JADE and SIAEC developed is part of a JAMCO “Project Blue Sky” Clean Cabin Initiative involving the removal of passenger seats from two zones in the cabin to allow cargo to be secured on the passenger cabin floor. This approach maximizes the cargo capacity in the passenger cabin and reduces the dead weight of the aircraft which in turn creates fuel savings for the airline. What’s more, the removed seats can be safely stored, eliminating the risk of damage during cargo loading. The retrofitted aircraft can now carry up to 193,000lbs of cargo, a 12% increase in cargo capacity from a standard B777-300ER.

JADE’s P2C conversion on the Boeing B777-300ER is the first solution to be awarded a Supplementary Type Certificate (STC) by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). This conversion also meets the set requirements for FAA and EASA STC approvals, making it a quick and compatible solution for any airline around the world, the company says.

Archer Unveils eVTOL Aircraft

California-based Archer, a company designing and developing electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL), debuted its Maker aircraft both live in Los Angeles and streamed to a global audience on the evening of June 10. The intimate, COVID-safe in-person event was held at the Hawthorne Hangar Operations and utilized industry leading XR technology to take audiences on a virtual ride on Maker.

In order to create a unique and completely immersive experience, Archer utilized movie production technology to bring its aircraft to life, an eVTOL industry first. The company built a 2,400 sq ft XR volume space that simulated a commercial flight and demonstrated how Archer will shape the next era of travel by transforming how people approach everyday life, work, and adventure. By creating a mass shared simulation using the film industry’s most cutting edge technology, attendees were able to virtually ride Archer’s aircraft, experiencing the next transportation revolution. 

“Archer has a big, bold company vision and our approach to this milestone moment had to match that,” said Louise Bristow, who leads Marketing and Communications for Archer and assembled the creative team. “We wanted to deliver an experience that went beyond the conventions of normal product launches and to bring together a unique group of partners to create something truly immersive for our audience.”

“Maker’s unveil has been years in the making and marks a pivotal juncture for the eVTOL industry and future of transportation,” said Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. “Every day at Archer, we’re working to build the future, and we have never felt closer than we did introducing the world to Maker. 

Adam Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer added “We’re excited to continue reaching new milestones and introducing our largest cities to the next generation of safe, sustainable travel.” 

Archer’s new chief creative officer Kenny Taht, was at the helm of the event’s creative direction, drawing on over three decades of experiential design and television production to bring Maker to life. “True innovation requires inspiration, which is why the team at Archer put great emphasis on creating a groundbreaking, highly engaging moment for Maker’s unveil,” said Taht. “In order to progress UAM, continuous education is needed and, with this experience, we’ve helped introduce travelers to this new reality.” 

Maker’s unveil is the latest example of Archer’s continued momentum, setting the stage for the next phase of engineering and flight testing. With backing from the United Airlines commercial order and the recently announced merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corporation (NYSE: ACIC), the company says it is valued at $3.8 billion and in an excellent financial position to continue on its accelerated timeline toward commercial launch in 2024. 

Flytrex and Walmart Closely Considering Backyard Drone Deliveries

Flytrex and Walmart are closely considering collaborating on a drone delivery program where the two will join forces. The plan is to review whether safe, cost-effective deliveries can be made by drone. It’s been reported that the companies launched the program in Fayetteville, NC. There, people can download an app to see if their homes are eligible to participate in the program.

New focus on drone use for deliveries has been a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The pilot program will see Flytrex drones delivering certain grocery items

The companies say drone deliveries may keep people socially distanced, reducing crowding at stores. Flytrex had reportedly been working with other companies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic before partnering with Walmart. 

United Becomes First U.S. Airline to Sign Aircraft Purchase Agreement with Boom Supersonic

United will purchase 15 of Boom’s ‘Overture’ airliners, once Overture meets United’s demanding safety, operating and sustainability requirements, with an option for 35 more aircraft. Slated to carry passengers in 2029, the net-zero carbon aircraft will fly on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Through innovation and collaboration, United and Boom are realizing a shared mission to connect the world safely and sustainably. At speeds twice as fast as today’s passenger jets, United’s new Overture fleet will open countless possibilities for new experiences and human connection.

“United continues on its trajectory to build a more innovative, sustainable airline and today’s advancements in technology are making it more viable for that to include supersonic plane,” said Scott Kirby, CEO, United Airlines. “Boom’s vision for the future of commercial aviation, combined with the industry’s most robust route network in the world, will give business and leisure travelers access to a stellar flight experience. Our mission has always been about connecting people and now working with Boom, we’ll be able to do that on an even greater scale.”

 “The world’s first order of net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world. At speeds twice as fast, United passengers will experience all the advantages of life lived in person, from deeper, more productive business relationships to longer, more relaxing vacations to far-off destinations,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO, Boom Supersonic.

Aevum Rolls Out Ravn X The First Autonomous Launch Vehicle and the Largest Unmanned Aircraft System

Space logistics and autonomous launch services provider Aevum, Inc. is rolled out its Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle, the world’s largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), by mass, designed to deliver satellites to space as fast as every 180 minutes. Aevum’s customer and mission partner, The United States Space Force, also took part in the Ravn X unveiling.

“Aevum is completely reimagining access to space. The current definition of rocket science doesn’t work for us. With Aevum, everyone will be able to say, ‘It is rocket science and I can do it.’ Aevum is pushing logistics to the next generation with software and automation technologies,” said Jay Skylus, founder and CEO of Aevum. “U.S. leadership has identified the critical need for extremely fast access to low Earth orbit. We’re faster than anybody. To me, space is merely a va ntage point from which the next generation can commit global progress. Through our autonomous technologies, Aevum will shorten the lead time of launches from years to months, and when our customers demand it, minutes. This is necessary to improve lives on Earth. This is necessary to save lives.”

“I’m excited to see the bold innovation and responsiveness in development today by our small launch industry partners to support emerging warfighter needs,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Rose, chief of the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Small Launch and Targets Division at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “The U.S. Space Force is proactively partnering with industry to support U.S. space superiority objectives. Having a robust U.S. industry providing responsive launch capability is key to ensuring the U.S. Space Force can respond to future threats.”

Aevum says their system is an entirely new paradigm for space access: Autonomous Launch. Autonomous Launch, unlike ground launch or air launch, involves a global, fully-autonomous, self-flying, self-managing, self-operating intelligent system of systems, called the autonomous launch architecture, working in concert to deliver payloads from any terrestrial origin to any space destination in low Earth orbit. The autonomous launch architecture optimizes every launch, taking into account variables including weather conditions, air traffic, orbital destination, payload weight, ground crew schedules, and other complex logistics processes to provide an end-to-end seamless service, autonomously. Critical to the Autonomous Launch architecture is the autonomous launch vehicle (AuLV), which flies itself without a pilot and only requires a one-mile runway and an 8,000 sf hangar for operation. AuLV’s use jet fuel and work exactly like an airplane.

With its fleet of autonomous Ravn X vehicles, Aevum will offer on-demand scheduling of precision orbital deliveries, as fast as every 180 minutes, 24/7, with no risk to human life. Ravn X is the only small launch vehicle that has been built from the ground up as reusable – 70% reusable out of the gate, it will be up to 95% reusable in the near future. After making its delivery to low Earth orbit, the UAS simply returns to Earth, autonomously landing safely on a runway and parking itself in the hangar.

The autonomous launch paradigm dramatically lowers the barrier for space access, in time, cost, and customer experience, and accelerates improvements in billion-dollar industries such as logistics, intelligence, defense, e-commerce, advanced analytics, climate change and weather monitoring, agriculture, IoT and more.

Already profitable and generating revenue, Aevum is on track for first launch with the U.S. Space Force and its ASLON-45 mission.

Cobham Mission Systems Secures Fuel Tank Inerting Solution for a Fifth U.S. Major Commercial Airline

Cobham Mission Systems announced a long-term agreement to provide air separation modules (ASM) for another major U.S. airline operating Boeing 737s (B737).  An aircraft’s ASM prevents the build-up of explosive conditions in fuel tanks by generating nitrogen enriched air to help lower the amount of oxygen in the fuel tank. Since its introduction in 2015, Cobham has delivered 885 B737 ASM model NC1211 units which have achieved over 5,000,000 flight hours with no failures, providing our airline partners with substantial savings in ownership and maintenance costs.

“Cobham Mission Systems is delighted to partner with another major US airline,” said Jason Apelquist, SVP business development and strategy. “Our air separation modules are the most reliable in the world, with 2,100 delivered and more than 17,600,000 flight hours on commercial aircraft worldwide. We are proud to contribute to our airline customers’ aircraft operation and maintenance cost reduction efforts through the outstanding performance, reliability and life on-wing Cobham ASMs provide.”

Cobham has been developing and delivering fuel tank inerting systems and subsystems for 30 years. With 6,700 systems on commercial (including B737, A320, A321, and B787) and military aircraft, and a total over 52,000,000 flight hours, Cobham holds the unique technical ability to design an optimally sized and configured fuel tank inerting system using Hollow Fiber Membrane technology. Cobham fuel tank inerting systems are designed for both military and commercial applications.

Marotta Controls Confirms Lockheed Martin Control Actuation System is Moving into High Volume Production

Marotta Controls, a rapidly growing aerospace and defense supplier based in New Jersey, announced that its custom fin Control Actuation System (CAS) design project for Lockheed Martin has reached completion having achieved full component-level qualification to more than 20 military standards. The qualification process required Marotta to build more than 20 systems to satisfy all required tests, including multiple successful all-up to ground level tests. The CAS is now transitioning from development into high volume production and is positioned to support throughout the life of the program.

This is Marotta’s first CAS to reach both the full component qualification and in-production milestones, solidifying the company’s position as a choice CAS industry supplier committed to meeting customer design and manufacturing requirements. In fact, the company expanded its manufacturing capabilities—facility infrastructure, power resource, test tools, etc.—to support Lockheed Martin’s fulfillment needs and ramp rates entirely in-house.

The electromechanical assembly is a technical achievement that differs from commonly available industry options. The design integrates the actuator with a single electrical board responsible for driving both motors for the two actuator axes. This particular design approach can prove difficult with respect to proper component separation and power isolation. Incorrect configuration of these elements can lead to uncontrolled, high levels of electromagnetic interference (EMI), which can ultimately damage the system when in use.

“We’re committed to doing everything within our means to help our customers realize their visions, no matter how complex or challenging,” said Steve Fox, vice president, Aerospace and Tactical Systems, Marotta Controls. “This is a sophisticated CAS designed to cost from the start. Every technical decision we made deliberately targeted Lockheed Martin’s power, performance, and lightweight specifications within the desired price range. The end product satisfies those requirements while also being smaller and considerably easier to install than competitive solutions.”

As noted above, Marotta recently invested in several production-related elements to ensure timely product delivery. For example, the company expanded its facility by an additional 1,100 square feet to accommodate additional equipment racks and assembly stations. Also related is Marotta’s previously announced investment in state-of-the art test equipment and new testing hubs to support the advanced vibration and environmental qualification requirements.


Enter you REGISTERED email

Aerospace Tech Review Magazine - Subscription Popup

Already a subscriber? Log in