American Airlines has committed to prepayment for 50 electric vertical takeoff and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft with Vertical Aerospace, part of a conditional preorder of up to 250 aircraft, with an option for an additional 100, the companies announced on July 15. Vertical Aerospace, based in the U.K., was formed in 2016 and expects to deliver its VX4 aircraft in 2025.
“Our partnership with Vertical is a great example of progress in our commitment to reducing carbon emissions throughout our airline and the industry,” said American Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr in a press release.
American Airlines’ commitment to predelivery payments and confirmation of slot reservations for the first 50 VX4 aircraft is believed to be the first of its kind for a major airline in the eVTOL space, according to the companies. Last year, United Airlines agreed to collaborate with Archer Aviation on the development of battery-powered, short-haul aircraft and to purchase up to 200 eVTOL aircraft together with Mesa Airlines.
Vertical’s piloted VX4 aircraft can fly four passengers at distances of more than 100 miles.
A Deloitte report published in June projected that eVTOL aircraft will fly in commercial service by 2024 and could become mainstream in the 2030s.
American’s interest in Vertical Aerospace began with a $25 million investment announced a year ago. In that announcement, the airline said that Vertical’s eVTOL aircraft “could potentially transport customers quickly around urban city centers and to airports.”