Irish-linked electric plane developer Vertical believes its air taxi could begin test flights this summer, the company said on Monday.
Bristol-based Vertical, founded by Belfast entrepreneur Stephen Fitzpatrick and chaired by recently-retired Avolon chief Dómhnal Slattery, said on Monday that it had £158 million sterling (€187 million) in cash at the end of June. It expects that its existing cash will enable Vertical to fund its operating expenses and capital expenditure requirements for “at least” the next 12 months.
Vertical finished building the prototype of its VX4 air taxi during the first half. “The VX4 prototype, as part of its intensive flight-test programme, has conducted a series of ground tests and is expected to begin flying over the summer,” the company said.
Mr Fitzpatrick confirmed that Vertical was readying the aircraft for an “intensive multi-month flight test programme”.
He added in a half-year results statement that the New York-listed company looked forward to giving shareholders more news of its piloted flights.
Earlier this year the European Union Aviation Safety Authority and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority validated the VX4 under a special certification system for vertical take off and landing aircraft.
Vertical believes this will ultimately allow VX4′s “rapid deployment across multiple markets”.
The company expects that the aircraft to be used like taxis in big, congested cities. The VX4 is an electric-powered, piloted aircraft with a range of around 160km that can travel at 320km an-hour.
Vertical has 1,400 pre-orders for the craft, many of them earmarked by Irish lessor Avolon, which is also an investor in the company.
The company lost £39 million in the six months to the end of June, 77 per cent more than the £22 million it lost during the same period last year. It focused on investing in its prototype during the period.
Vertical intends to spend between £40 million and £50 million in the second half of this year as development continues.
This month Vertical established an equity line with Japanese bank, Nomura, that will allow it issue $100 million in new ordinary shares, giving it a flexible means of raising more cash.