Brazil’s Gol orders 250 vertical aerospace flying taxis

Brazil’s largest airline is planning to purchase and operate 250 electric flying taxis, similar to Airbus's City Airbus protoype pictured here. — AFP

Brazil’s largest airline Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes plans to operate 250 Vertical Aerospace Group electric air taxis as part of a plan to establish a ride-sharing business.

Leasing firm Avolon Holdings Ltd. said Tuesday it will work with Gol to identify local partners and infrastructure and certification requirements for the VA-X4 vertical takeoff and landing model. Avolon ordered 500 of the craft earlier this year, alongside an investment in the manufacturer.

Electric air taxis are emerging as a new aviation sector as the first designs near maturity and their developers raise funds through deals with special purpose acquisition companies.

Vertical Aerospace said in June it would list via a reverse merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. in a deal valuing their combined equity at about US$2.2bil (RM9.22bil).

Bristol, England-based Vertical says the zero-emission four-passenger VA-X4 will fly at 200 miles (322km) per hour for more than 100 miles (160km). The startup plans to conduct its first test flight later this year, with certification as early as 2024.

American Airlines Group Inc., which took a minority stake in Gol this month, also has pre-order contracts for the model.

Airbus SE unveiled its latest eVTOL design Tuesday, modifying a previous design for an all-electric four-seat demonstrator known as CityAirbus. The latest version resembles a traditional aircraft rather than the drone-style model of the initial project and the company now aims to fly a prototype in 2023 and targets certification by 2025.

Vertical Aerospace said separately that it had agreed an outline deal to supply 25 VA-X4s to helicopter operator Bristow Group Inc., with an option for 25 more. Houston-based Bristow will work on establishing flights with the craft in a variety of locations. – Bloomberg

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