Despite the flurry of news updates over the last couple years, it’s still easy to feel like the flying taxi future—and the promise of on-demand carbon-free travel—is little more than a pipe dream. But new footage shows that electric flight might be closer to reality than we thought.
Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace has just released the first video of an eVTOL (electronic vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft successfully completing flight with 250 kg (about 550 lb) on board. While that may at first seem like no big deal, it is because the payload is the equivalent of one pilot and two passengers.
Posted earlier this week, the clip shows the aircraft, dubbed the “Seraph,” taking off from Llanbedr Airfield in Wales and hovering about 20 feet above the ground. At that point it begins to race down the airstrip before slowing up and landing on the ground below. While it’s unclear how fast the aircraft is travelling, the company claims it can reach speeds of up to 80 kph (about 50 mph).
As exciting at Vertical Aerospace’s footage may be, it’s what comes next that will really matter. The company says its plans to integrate the technology and systems feat in the Seraph into a passenger model that is scheduled to be completed next year. If all goes well, that aircraft will be used to launch a flying taxi service.