Vertical Aerospace Appoints Jet Aviation’s Eric Samson as Head of Engineering

Further strengthening its team, last month, Vertical Aerospace appointed Eric Samson, formerly Vice President of Engineering and Head of the Design Organisation at Jet Aviation, as Head of Engineering to help Vertical move towards their vision of electric flight for everyone.

Vertical continues to prove itself to be a global pioneer in sustainable aviation technologies, as one of only a handful of companies to have flown and flight tested two full-scale all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) prototypes with UK Civil Aviation Authority approval. The latest, Seraph, can carry 250kg and reach speeds of 80km/h. Development of Vertical’s next generation eVTOL is well underway and will soon be made public. At certification, the aircraft will be able to carry one pilot and four passengers, up to 100 miles at speeds of 150mph. Vertical is targeting certification and initial service operation in 2024.   

Samson will be responsible for continuing to build a world-class engineering and Design Organisation, establishing Vertical’s vision, defining and applying best practice processes and tools. Eric will be working closely with Tim Williams, recently appointed Chief Engineer, and Mike Gascoyne, CTO, by heading up the engineering function to prepare the way for our Design Organisation Approval (DOA) and to develop the technologies and capabilities that we need to develop the future aircraft. Eric will be crucial to ensure the correct competencies and industry-leading talent are aligned to develop, test and certify the most technologically advanced eVTOL and aircraft systems.    

With 29 years’ experience, the company says Samson has a proven track record holding various technical and leadership roles throughout his career. At Gulfstream Aerospace he held various roles from Structural Design Engineer to Project Engineering Manager, participating in five major programs (G550, G450, G650, G500 & G600). He led an airframe design and stress team in carrying out the development, first flight and certification of the Gulfstream G650. He also worked with high-end aircraft interiors and advanced cabin systems STCs for Heads of State and VVIP customers. More recently, as VP of Engineering and Head of the Design Organisation at Jet Aviation, he was responsible for reorganising the engineering structure, implementing a growing range of engineering services and increasing EASA scope of approval.   

“I am honoured to join Vertical Aerospace and to have the opportunity to be part of the next chapter of aviation history. I am also excited to work alongside a young and self-driven world-class organisation which is committed to revolutionising the way people fly and bring carbon-free and on-demand travel to life,” Samson said. “While the challenges are significantly different than those on well-known traditional aircraft, I am looking forward to building an innovative engineering and Design Organisation that will challenge the status quo and certify the safest and most reliable urban air mobility experience.”   

Michael Cervenka, CEO, Vertical Aerospace added, “I am absolutely delighted to welcome Eric Samson to Vertical. Eric brings invaluable expertise as an existing EASA Design Organisation Approval holder with over 29 years’ aerospace experience in leading cross-functional teams in the Design, Development, Test and Certification of high-performance aircraft. He brings a tremendous pedigree in successfully leading and transforming innovative, large and diverse aircraft engineering functions. With Eric joining, alongside Tim Williams, our recently appointed Chief Engineer, and Mike Gascoyne, Vertical’s CTO and Formula 1 veteran, we have assembled a truly formidable and diverse engineering exec team to help realise our exciting endeavour in developing world-leading sustainable aircraft.” 

Vertical Aerospace is continuing to work alongside aviation authorities around the world and plans to have a certified eVTOL by 2024. They also continue to build strategic partnerships with global leaders such as Honeywell, who are developing the flight control systems for their latest aircraft. The aim is to disrupt the trillion-dollar commercial aviation market.