Vertical VX4 eVTOL Suffers Incident During Flight Testing

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Vertical Aerospace has reported that its VX4 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft prototype was involved in an incident during flight testing on Wednesday. The extent of the damage to the prototype, which was piloted remotely, has not been disclosed. The incident occurred at Vertical’s flight test center at Cotswold Airport (GBA) in the U.K. and no injuries have been reported.

“Our flight test programme is designed to establish the limits of the aircraft’s performance, and the incident occurred during an uncrewed test of the aircraft’s maneuverability during a motor failure test scenario, which is a key requirement to progress to crewed operations,” Vertical wrote in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “We are working closely with the relevant authorities.”

As previously reported by AVweb, the Vertical VX4 flew for the first time in September 2022. According to the company, the aircraft will offer a cruise speed of 150 miles per hour, range of up to 100 miles and be capable of carrying a pilot and four passengers. In a recently released report on its financial results for the first half of 2023, Vertical noted that VX4 flight test activities to date have included both tethered and untethered hovers as well as expanding the vehicle’s low-speed flight envelope. The company is also working on a second VX4 prototype.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. No video or photos, no technical details, reporting this to the SEC?! What’s next, a commission to study UFOs?

  2. It didn’t “suffer an incident”; it crashed. This is like using “officer-involved shooting” in a headline when it’s really “cops shoot someone.”

  3. Recklessness is not a part of engineering. So far, no one has explained why a eVTOL would have any advantage over the helicopter when it comes to safety.

    • Hi Don,

      – Electric multirotors offer a high degree of redundancy. Helicopters don’t.
      – Helicopters use extremely complex mechanical systems with many single points of failure that are non-survivable. While they have been made very safe, it has been by accepting very high maintenance expense to keep those complex systems in tip-top shape.
      – It has been asserted and is plausible – but has yet to be proven – that electric motors can be even more reliable than gas turbines with gear drives.

      There are other considerations that make electric interesting – design space options not available to helicopters, potential for lower cost – but you asked about safety specifically.

      • Yeah … kinda like the NASA X-47 “Maxwell” that cost taxpayers $87M to try to design a STOL airplane out of a good airplane (Tecnam P2006) with 14 motors (sic). And all we got out of it was a forum at Airventure.

      • So it had an incident “during a motor failure test scenario.” It seems to me that the redundancy only multiplies the chances a failure will result in a crash compared to a helicopter, 4X’s.

  4. I think that instead of wasting all of our collective time on these electric wishful thinking flying contraptions, Avweb could just display as few words as possible on each situation followed by playing an audio of Queen … “Another one bites the dust”

    youtube.com/watch?v=MK8r4ktQw64

    🙂

  5. The Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOL prototype crashed during an uncrewed test.

    The crash occurred during a motor failure test scenario.

    The incident may lead to a delay in certification and commercial flights.

    The Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) experimental prototype suffered a crash during an uncrewed test at Cotswold Airport (GBA) in the United Kingdom, delivering a considerable setback to the program, given the company’s sole possession of only one flying prototype.

    The company did not reveal the exact damage sustained by the aircraft. But Vertical Aerospace said that it is “closely working with the relevant authorities.”

    According to a report by Pilotweb.aero, before the crash, the VX4 eVTOL prototype reached an altitude of approximately 20 feet.

    Journalist Charlotte Bailey also flagged a photograph of the incident on Pilotweb.aero website. The image depicted the prototype with significant structural damage, notably to the starboard wing. Following the VX4 crash, the airfield experienced a brief closure but has since resumed operations.

    https://pilotweb.aero/wp-content/uploads/thumbnail_IMG_8567-1-900×595.jpg

    The company did not reveal the exact damage sustained by the aircraft. But Vertical Aerospace said that it is “closely working with the relevant authorities.”

  6. Wow – I’m shocked. An incident involving a marvelous plastic-fantastic eVTOL creation – amazing. NOT

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