The Antwerp-based private aircraft company Flyinggroup has ordered 50 e-VTOL VX4 airplanes from British Vertical Aerospace (Vertical), a pioneer in electric aviation. Delivery is expected by 2025.
Flyinggroup, headquartered in Deurne (Antwerp), manages a fleet of more than 45 private planes in Europe and the Middle East, of which 15 are stationed in Antwerp. Now, the group has ordered 50 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
The two parties have agreed to launch a Joint Working Group (JWG) to begin exploring Fyinggroup’s application of using the VX4 in the business aviation market, including individual ownership, low volume operation, and fractional ownership, the press release states.
Like a helicopter
These machines can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter using four propellers, so they don’t need a runway. They only need a 30-meter circle to land. Once in the air, the propellers can tilt forward to fly like a normal plane at speeds up to 320 km/h.
The VX4 planes to be built by the British startup are very quiet and completely emission-free, and according to Vertical’s CEO and founder Stephen Fitzpatrick, “a hundred times safer than a helicopter.” Fitzpatrick is an established entrepreneur best known as the founder of the energy and technology company Ovo Group.
The VX4 planes can seat four passengers and cover a range of 160 km on pure electric power. They are used for short-distance flights, for instance, to cover ‘the last mile’. So they’re often used to bring professionals to the airport or their final destination. Over time, when the battery capacity expands, their range will probably double.
Flyinggroup is the first company in Belgium to launch electric planes commercially. They will be used in and around cities like Antwerp, Brussels, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Paris.
The corona pandemic has boosted private aviation: no long waiting times, no canceled flights, and less fear of contamination. However, private flights come with a price: passengers pay 3 000 to 4 000 euros per hour.
Many people remain skeptical about the feasibility of electric airplanes. Arguments they put forward are limited range, (too) heavy and bulky batteries (so, limited capacity), and, thus, economically unrewarding. Valuable arguments in the case of airlines focussing on transporting the masses. However, for Flyinggroup’s VX4 aircraft, these arguments do not hold.
“Going electric is the next big step in our sustainability plan. Not only will we be expanding our fleet with the most advanced electric eVTOLs; we will be able to accommodate our clients and guests with the newest zero-carbon ‘door-to-door’ private and business aviation,” said Bernard Van Milders, Founder of Flyinggroup. “By connecting airports with cities and ports, FLYINGGROUP is bringing a new wave of business travel to corporations and individuals.”