UK CAA grants design organisation approval to Vertical Aerospace for VX4

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued its first Design Organisation Approval (DOA) to an eVTOL manufacturer: Vertical Aerospace. The company says this is a step towards achieving certification for its VX4 vehicle in a press release.

Design Organisation Approval

UK and European aerospace companies cannot hold a Type Certificate without being granted a DOA. The DOA authorises Vertical to conduct design activities and issue design approvals within the DOA’s scope of approval. As an approved Design Organisation, Vertical will have increasing authority and privileges as we progress through the design and certification programme of the VX4. This 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.

Certification process

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 coming months, including robust technical familiarisations. This positions the UK, alongside Europe, as a market with a clear regulatory framework for the design and manufacture of these novel electric aircraft.

Japanese validation

Vertical has also formally commenced its certification efforts in Japan, following the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau’s (JCAB) acceptance of the VX4’s validation programme. Successful validation of the VX4’s Type Certificate will allow the aircraft to be operated in this key market. Vertical is 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 programme. 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.

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