Rolls-Royce Provides Electrical Power System for Vertical Aerospace’s Urban Air Mobility Aircraft

March 18, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

Rolls-Royce works with Vertical Aerospace to integrate one of its electrical power systems into what is hoped to be one of the world’s first certified all-electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles. 

British multinational company, Rolls Royce Holdings plc (RR), is a world-leading manufacturer and supplier of power systems for Civil Aerospace, Defense, and other industries. Recently, the company announced the first taxiing of its ‘Spirit of Innovation’ electric aircraft and soon unveiled more news concerning the electrification of aviation through its latest collaboration with British aerospace manufacturer, Vertical Aerospace (VA). Last week, RR announced that one of its electrical power systems will be integrated into VA’s piloted all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. VA’s flagship Urban Air Mobility (UAM) aircraft has been designed to carry up to four passengers for 120 miles at cruise speeds of more than 200mph and is planned to be certified in 2024.


The VA-X4. Image used courtesy of Vertical Aerospace
The VA-X4. Image used courtesy of Vertical Aerospace


The VA-X4

The collaboration will involve the work of roughly 150 RR engineers from around the globe, alongside the VA team. Both teams will be working on the development of VA’s eVOTL aircraft, the VA-X4. The RR team will be designing the system architecture of the aircraft’s electrical propulsion system. The RR team will also be designing an electric power system that includes RR’s latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution, and the monitoring system that will support operations. The build of the VA-X4 is set to commence soon, with the assembly taking place in the UK. Later this year, the aircraft is planned to undertake its first flight.


The Electrification of Flight

For RR, working with VA is a crucial stepping stone in establishing its first commercial deal in the UAM  market. Additionally, the electrification of the VA-X4 with the company’s cutting-edge technology is integral to its sustainability strategy. RR aims to contribute to a net-zero carbon future by 2050. The VA-X4 will be completely emission-free and has been designed to be 100 times quieter than a helicopter. 

In a recent press release, CEO of Vertical Aerospace, Michael Cervenka, said: “We are excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce, bringing onboard a hugely experienced team with deep expertise and cutting-edge electrical technologies to power our pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This collaboration builds on our existing partnerships and Vertical is well-positioned to develop the world’s leading eVTOL aircraft, certified to the highest CAA and EASA safety standards being set globally.”


The VA-X4. Image used courtesy of Vertical Aerospace
The VA-X4. Image used courtesy of Vertical Aerospace


In the same press release, the Director of Rolls-Royce Electrical, Rob Watson, commented: “We are delighted to collaborate with Vertical Aerospace for the electrical technology that will power their pioneering eVTOL aircraft. This exciting opportunity demonstrates our ambitions to be a leading supplier of sustainable complete power systems for the new Urban Air Mobility market which has the potential to transform the way that people and freight move from city to city.”