Despite losing its shine to some investors, SPAC deals are still hot among flying car startups. The latest to the join game is U.K. eVTOL maker Vertical Aerospace. The five-year-old company, headquartered in Bristol, announced Thursday that it plans to go public through a merger with the NYSE-listed SPAC Broadstone Acquisition Corp. in the second half of 2021.
Vertical will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker “EVTL.” The reverse merger is valued at $2.2 billion.
Like every other eVTOL company in the market right now, Vertical doesn’t have a viable product just yet. Nevertheless, the company said it has already secured $4 billion worth of pre-orders from major aviation clients, including American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
American Airlines has placed a conditional order for up to 250 of Vertical’s prototype aircraft at $4 million each to establish an electric plane network in the U.S. Virgin Atlantic has placed an order for 150 aircraft for a similar network in the U.K. Vertical’s largest launch customer so far is the aircraft leasing company Avolon, which has pre-ordered 500 eVTOLs.
Vertical’s newest model is called VA-X4. It’s designed to carry four passengers and a pilot for about 100 miles on each charge at a maximum speed of more than 200 miles per hour. Vertical plans to test fly VA-X4 later this year and obtain certification for the aircraft as early as 2024.
“This is the most exciting time in aviation for almost a century,” Vertical founder Stephen Fitzpatrick said on Thursday. “Electrification will transform flying in the 21st century in the same way the jet engine did 70 years ago. Today’s announcement brings together some of the largest and most respected technology and aeronautical businesses in the world, and together we can achieve our aim of making the VA-X4 the first zero-carbon aircraft that most people will fly on.”
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said the airline would first use the eVTOLs for short-haul trips between cities and airport hubs. The travel time from Cambridge to the London Heathrow airport, for example, will be shortened from 90 minutes by car to about 20 minutes by air.
Vertical is backed by a roster of powerful corporate investors, including Honeywell, Rolls-Royce and Microsoft’s venture fund M12.