U.K. Startup Targets Flying Taxi Launch by 2022

Bristol, England-based Vertical Aerospace says it completed testing of a prototype all-electric aircraft this summer and aims to launch inter-city flying taxi services within four years.

The vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft is designed to hold a pilot and two passengers and travel at a top speed of 50 mph for as far as 500 miles. The unmanned prototype flew for about five minutes.

Vertical Aerospace was founded in 2016 by CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick, who also heads Britain energy supplier Ovo Energy Ltd. and purchased the Manor Marussia Formula One race team in 2015. The startup has about 30 employees, including former Airbus and Boeing engineers.

Fitzpatrick says the company is applying F1 technologies—including advanced aerodynamics, lightweight materials and electrical systems—to the flying taxis. He envisions such vehicles quickly transporting passengers from London to Madrid in the future without using an airport.

To date, Fitzpatrick has funded Vertical Aerospace himself. But he now is talking with potential investors to help accelerate research and development and eventual commercialization.