Vertical Aerospace has made further progress on its path to certification for the VX4 and secured the first ever Design Organization Approval (DOA) issued to an eVTOL manufacturer by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Design Organisation Approval
UK and European aerospace companies cannot hold a Type Certificate without being granted a DOA. The DOA authorizes Vertical to conduct design activities and issue design approvals within the DOA’s scope of approval. As an approved Design Organization, Vertical will have increasing authority and privileges as progress is made on the design and certification program of the VX4.
The approval means the CAA is satisfied that Vertical has the capability to design a safe and reliable aircraft and aviation-related products to the highest standards. This is expected to streamline the steps towards obtaining Type Certification.
The process for achieving DOA involved a rigorous assessment of Vertical’s procedures, its quality management system, the competence of its technical workforce, and the necessary facilities and equipment to support the design activities to certify the VX4 aircraft.
Earlier this month, the CAA announced its intention to adopt European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) Means of Compliance to SC-VTOL, the standards against which European and now UK manufacturers will design eVTOLs. Vertical continues working closely with the CAA on the Type Certification of its VX4 aircraft, having recently submitted its certification basis proposal to the regulator.
Taken together, this progress provides essential regulatory clarity to Vertical on the requirements for the development of its VX4 aircraft and further discussions will continue with the CAA in the coming months, including robust technical familiarizations. This positions the UK, alongside Europe, as a market with a clear regulatory framework for the design and manufacture of these novel electric aircraft.
Vertical has also formally commenced its certification efforts in Japan, following the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau’s (JCAB) acceptance of the VX4’s validation program. Successful validation of the VX4’s Type Certificate will allow the aircraft to be operated in this key market.
Vertical is thought to be well-positioned in Japan, having partnered with Japan Airlines (JAL), through the placement of up to 100 VX4 pre-orders with Avolon, as well as with Marubeni Corporation for up to 200 VX4 pre-orders. In January 2023, Marubeni made a pre-delivery payment to Vertical for the reservation of its first 25 VX4 aircraft delivery slots out of the 200 VX4 conditional pre-orders. In March 2023, it was announced that Marubeni would be one of the operators of the Advanced Air Mobility showcase for the 2025 Osaka World Expo to fly with Vertical’s VX4.
JCAB formally becomes the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is working closely with, including the CAA on Type Certification and concurrent validation with EASA and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Vertical is also in discussions with the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil on the VX4’s future validation program. The establishment of this broad coalition of regulators will enable Vertical to deliver the VX4 into service internationally, with its airline, helicopter operator, aircraft lessor, business aviation and tourism group customers.
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical’s Founder and CEO, said: “I am immensely proud that Vertical is the first British electric aircraft company in history to receive a DOA from the UK aviation regulator. This approval is a critical step forward in our mission to decarbonize air travel and bring the UK’s first electric aircraft to market. We are grateful for the CAA’s commitment to advancing sustainable aviation, which allows us to build on the UK’s proud aerospace tradition.”
Paul Harper, Vertical’s Head of Certification, commented: “Receiving a DOA from the CAA is a huge testament to our team and the hard work we are doing to ensure safety is at the core of the VX4. It represents a significant milestone on our journey to Type Certification and we would like to thank the CAA for their guidance and continued support.
“I believe that in formally working with JCAB, as the fourth aviation regulator Vertical is committed to certifying with, we are on track for establishing the most detailed understanding of global regulators’ needs and differences for eVTOLs. This will give us a competitive edge in bringing the VX4 into service.”
Garry Lathey, Design and Certification Manager at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, added: “We are committed to enabling innovators such as Vertical take their ideas to market in a safe, secure and sustainable way. The granting of Design Organization Approval to Vertical is an essential step on their journey bringing an eVTOL aircraft into service. It emphasizes our commitment to making the UK a key destination for aviation innovators.
“It’s also vital that this work has an international impact and so in all our efforts we aim to work collaboratively with other regulatory bodies around the world to support the future of eVTOL flight and maintain the high safety standards that the public expects.”