DUBAI: As Rolls-Royce and Vertical Aerospace race to introduce a fully-electric aircraft by 2025, officials from both companies said the Middle East is an ideal market in terms of demand and infrastructure.
The pair is developing the VA-X4, an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which could introduce a new intercity mode of transportation with zero emissions.
“We’re aiming to enter about 50 aircrafts into service by 2025, and we’re targeting to be in the thousands by the end of the decade, so we have a very quick ramp-up,” Lawrence Blakeley, Vertical Aerospace’s head of power supply and systems installation, said.
Although the units could first be commercially operational in the US, Blakeley and Gabriele Teofili, head of UAM business area at Rolls-Royce, agreed on the potential of deploying the aircraft in the Middle East.
“We are focused on replacing old markets, and creating new markets,” Blakeley said, confirming they are in talks with regional authorities for the possible deployment of their vehicles.
The pair declined to comment further on the ongoing talks.
In terms of infrastructure, Teofili said the Middle East has an advantage because of its environment.
“You have the flexibility to place vertical airports wherever you want because there is still a lot of unused land,” he explained, highlighting the crucial need to build infrastructure to enable the use of their e-aircrafts to begin with.
“We have the opportunity to set up the infrastructure in the way we need, compared to older continents,” he said.
Rob Watson, head of electrical at Rolls-Royce, said the region’s vision to transform urban air mobility plays well with the company’s efforts to invest in modern transportation applications.
Vertical Aerospace, which is a UK-based startup founded in 2016, previously announced a $205 million investment from Mudrick Capital, which it intends to use to further develop their technology and to push its ambitions of scaling globally.
Although the assembly facility is located in the UK, Blakeley expects to open other production facilities in markets where demand exists.