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Vertical Aerospace Announces the Opening of the Vertical Energy Centre, the UK's Most Advanced Aerospace Battery Facility

14 March 2023

  • Continues the UK's long tradition of innovation, putting it at the forefront of electric battery development
  • The Vertical Energy Centre (VEC) will support the design, test, manufacture and commercialisation of Vertical’s custom-made battery pack for its VX4 aircraft
  • Creates high tech employment opportunities in the Southwest of England
  • Development of frontier battery technology means Vertical is leading the UK one step closer to electric flight

Vertical Aerospace (Vertical) (NYSE: EVTL), a global aerospace and technology company that is pioneering zero-emissions aviation, today announces another significant UK investment and innovation milestone with the opening of the Vertical Energy Centre (VEC), believed to be the UK’s most advanced aerospace battery facility, based in Bristol.

The multi-million-pound state-of-the-art, 15,000ft2 facility, is one of the only dedicated aerospace battery facilities in the UK. It is home to Vertical’s current 50-strong battery team – drawn from the likes of McLaren, the European Space Agency, Jaguar Land Rover, Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Dyson – who are developing proprietary battery technology that is enabling greater power to weight ratios for eVTOL flight. These frontier technologies are expected to transform what has been possible with battery technology to date.

Vertical announced last year its strategic partnership with Molicel, which combines Vertical’s proprietary battery pack design with Molicel’s leading cell technology. Vertical has already conducted significant cell testing at the VEC for use in our battery pack modules. Operational ramp-up of Vertical’s battery manufacturing machinery has begun by assembling the first in-house developed prototype battery modules in the facility.

Vertical’s battery systems have undergone a wide range of testing, including temperature, conducted emissions, vibration, thermal durability and characterisation, propagation and drop testing at the VEC. Vertical has previously had significant progress with battery tests, having carried out crash and thermal runaway testing under European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority supervision. Vertical’s expertise on batteries is recognised by the industry with its Head of Powertrain, Dr Limhi Somerville, chairing the eVTOL EuroCAE electrical certification group, the group that is defining the battery standards for electric aviation with EASA.

Vertical has developed significant intellectual property around battery design including cell packaging, cooling and electronic battery management systems to deliver high-power, high-performance battery packs capable of powering eVTOL aircraft. Vertical is aiming for entry into service with a 220Wh/kg battery system. This will enable Vertical’s VX4 to conduct back-to-back missions, with fast-charging cycles in-between, and minimised impact on the packs’ cycle life.

This announcement follows the recent news that Vertical secured £14m in funding from the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) through a joint initiative with the UK government, to further progress the development of its battery technology. The project, in partnership with University College London (UCL), will increase the core capability of Vertical’s battery system, improve recycling efficiency, and increase the scope of its use in additional markets.

Dr Limhi Somerville, Head of Vertical’s powertrain team said, “Aircraft require high-performing and safer batteries than anything on the market today. This facility and our core technology will unlock this, bringing the reality of electric flight even closer.”

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical, commented, “Delivering the electric aircraft of the future requires innovation at its best which is why we are championing UK electric battery development. Our world-class team in Bristol will be pushing new boundaries to design battery systems fit for electrifying our future.”

UK Minister for Investment, Lord Johnson said: “Vertical’s investment in cutting-edge battery technology brings us one step closer to delivering zero-emission flight, a central objective of the Jet Zero Council. Tomorrow’s technologies like zero-emissions aviation will not only provide a boost to sustainable growth, but are essential for generating the new, high-quality jobs that will take Britain’s economy into the future.”

About Vertical Aerospace

Vertical Aerospace (NYSE: EVTL) is pioneering electric aviation. The company was founded in 2016 by Stephen Fitzpatrick, an established entrepreneur best known as the founder of the Ovo Group, a leading energy and technology group and Europe’s largest independent energy retailer. Vertical has focused on building the most experienced and senior team in the eVTOL industry, who have previously certified and supported over 30 different civil and military aircraft and propulsion systems.

Vertical’s top-tier partner ecosystem, including Rolls-Royce, Honeywell Aerospace, Leonardo and GKN Aerospace, is expected to de-risk operational execution and its pathway to certification allowing for a lean cost structure and enabling production at scale. Vertical has a leading pre-order book for more than 1,400 aircraft from diverse global customer base, creating multiple potential near term and actionable routes to market. Customers include airlines, aircraft lessors, helicopter operators and tourism groups, including American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Avolon, Bristow, Marubeni, Iberojet and FLYINGGROUP, as well as Japan Airlines (JAL), Gol, Air Greenland, Gozen Holding and AirAsia, through Avolon’s VX4 placements.

Vertical’s VX4 eVTOL is projected to be capable of transporting a pilot and up to four passengers, traveling distances of up to 100 miles, and achieving a cruise speed of 150 miles per hour, while producing minimal noise and zero operating emissions.

Having been issued with its Permit to Fly from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority in September 2022, Vertical’s VX4 prototype has successfully undertaken piloted flight tests. The flight test programme will continue over the coming months, reaching higher altitudes and speeds, as well as demonstrating the transition from vertical to horizontal flight.

Vertical Media Kit
Available here

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Any express or implied statements contained in this press release that are not statements of historical fact may be deemed to be forward-looking statements, including, without limitation, statements regarding the receipt of anticipated funding and technology development, the certification and the commercialization of the VX4 and related timelines, the differential strategy compared to its peer group, expectations surrounding pre-orders and commitments, the features and capabilities of the VX4, the transition towards a net-zero emissions economy, expected financial performance and operational performance for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022, as well as statements that include the words “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “project,” “forecast,” “estimate,” “may,” “should,” “anticipate,” “will,” “aim,” “potential,” “continue,” “are likely to” and similar statements of a future or forward-looking nature. Forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including, without limitation: the possibility of the expected grant funding not being received in whole or in part, including as a result of the non-fulfilment of conditions precedent, the early termination of the grant funding programme, Vertical’s failure to secure sufficient resources to be able to claim the full eligible amount of the grant funding, and failure to progress the technology development project according to Vertical’s current plans, any or all of which could result in Vertical receiving less than, or ultimately none of, the anticipated funding described herein; Vertical’s limited operating history without manufactured non-prototype aircraft or completed eVTOL aircraft customer order; Vertical’s history of losses and the expectation to incur significant expenses and continuing losses for the foreseeable future; the market for eVTOL aircraft being in a relatively early stage; the potential inability of Vertical to produce or launch aircraft in the volumes and on timelines projected; the potential inability of Vertical to obtain the necessary certifications on the timelines projected; any accidents or incidents involving eVTOL aircraft could harm Vertical’s business; Vertical’s dependence on partners and suppliers for the components in its aircraft and for operational needs; the potential that certain of Vertical’s strategic partnerships may not materialize into long-term partnership arrangements; pre-orders Vertical has received for its aircraft are conditional and may be terminated at any time in writing prior to certain specified dates; any potential failure by Vertical to effectively manage its growth; the impact of COVID-19 on Vertical’s business; Vertical has identified material weaknesses in its internal controls over financial reporting and may be unable to remediate the material weaknesses; Vertical’s dependence on our senior management team and other highly skilled personnel; as a foreign private issuer Vertical follows certain home country corporate governance rules, is not subject to U.S. proxy rules and is subject to Exchange Act reporting obligations that, to some extent, are more lenient and less frequent than those of a U.S. domestic public company; and the other important factors discussed under the caption “Risk Factors” in our Annual Report on Form 20-F filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on April 29, 2022, as such factors may be updated from time to time in Vertical’s other filings with the SEC. Any forward-looking statements contained in this press release speak only as of the date hereof and accordingly undue reliance should not be placed on such statements. Vertical disclaims any obligation or undertaking to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, other than to the extent required by applicable law.

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