Vertical Aerospace has seemingly suffered a setback with the recent news that its VX4 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) prototype crashed during unmanned testing. An image circulating on social media shows the VX4 prototype (G-EVTL) resting on its nose, with one of its forward prop-rotors also apparently in contact with the ground. This test took place about a month after Vertical began untethered test flights of the VX4 at Kemble Airfield in the southwest region of the United Kingdom. The damage to the air vehicle appears to be significant.
Bad news from@VerticalAero
at Cotswold Airport, where – according to an airfield source – the VX4 #evtol has crashed from approximately 20ft during an unmanned inflight shutdown as part of its ongoing testing programme. Significant structural damage shown in the image below: pic.twitter.com/C6OJzRVYAk
— Charlotte Bailey (@penandpaper1989) August 9, 2023
Vertical officials said that the crash 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.” No personnel were injured in the accident.
Going forward, the test will provide valuable data that can be applied to prevent further crashes of the VX4. These test flights will play a critical role in the drive to standardize autonomous flight.
Vertical is progressing with the build of its second prototype VX4, which will incorporate lessons learned from these tests. The second prototype should begin flight testing in late 2023.
In early 2023, Vertical said it had pre-orders for more than 1,400 aircraft from a diverse global customer base. The aircraft was originally planned to enter service in 2025, but its certifcation has now been delayed to 2026.