Kelsey Reichmann Aviation Today
Rolls-Royce to Build Electric Propulsion System for Vertical Aerospace
March 9, 2021
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  • Rolls-Royce is building an electrical power system for Vertical Aerospace’s VA-X4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, the company announced in a March 9 press release. The electrical propulsion system will include Rolls-Royce’s 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units and power distribution and monitoring system.

    “We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft,” Rob Watson, director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, said in a press statement. “This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”

    Vertical Aerospace released new aircraft names to reflect passenger capacity earlier this week, a representative from the company told Avionics International. The VA-X1 now refers to their proof of concept aircraft that had a one-passenger capacity. The VA-X4 is the companies newest prototype with the ability to carry four passengers. 

    The VA-X4 will conduct flight testing this year with remotely piloted demonstrator flights beginning in September, according to a representative from the company. The first test flights will use a different propulsion system from the system being developed by Rolls-Royce but the final certified aircraft will use Rolls-Royce’s system.

    “We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft,” Michael Cervenka, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, said in a statement. “This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”

    The VA-X4 will can cruise at speeds up to 120 miles and a range of 200 miles per hour, according to the company’s website.

    This partnership reflects previous statements about Vertical Aerospace’s intentions to lean on experienced partners in the field.

    “One of the approaches we’re taking in our program is that we’re not going to have a high degree of vertical integration like some of the other companies in this industry seems to be going for,” Tim Williams, chief engineer at Vertical Aerospace, said in a January webinar. “Our intention is to partner with some of the big names out there, some of the names that have the pedigrees in terms of safety analysis, safety management, supply chain management, and those sort of things. And we will be at any integrator, keeping up our cost down and utilizing their knowledge base.”