GKN Aerospace is to design and manufacture the wing and electrical vertical wiring interconnection systems (EWIS) for Vertical Aerospsace’s VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft. The aerostructures and aircraft systems group is the latest leading aerospace manufacturer to join the UK-based program, with Rolls-Royce (electric propulsion system), Honeywell (flight controls and avionics), Solvay (composite airframe manufacturing), and Microsoft (IT) already signed up as key partners.
Vertical Aerospace’s engineering team is now building the first full-scale prototype for the four-passenger aircraft as they prepare for a first flight later this year. This will fly with Honeywell’s flight controls and a complete avionics suite but not with the production version of the electric propulsion system, which Rolls-Royce is still developing.
GKN Aerospace has extensive experience as a tier-one supplier to multiple commercial airliner, military aircraft, and aero-engine programs. The group has 41 manufacturing facilities in 13 countries and can handle high-volume production rates. One of its main facilities is in the UK city of Bristol, where Vertical Aerospace is based.
According to Vertical Aerospace CEO Michael Cervenka, the start-up has sought to reduce the technology risk by selecting as partners larger aerospace companies that have extensive experience with type certification. It is aiming to bring its aircraft into commercial service during 2024, offering a range of over 100 miles and speeds of around 200 mph.
“The rapid progress being made towards electric aircraft is a game-changer for the industry,” said GKN Aerospace president John Pritchard. “GKN Aerospace has decades of experience in both aerostructures and EWIS and we are excited to use our expertise to accelerate the transition to more sustainable aviation.”
GKN is already producing wings, empennage, and electrical wiring for Eviation’s Alice all-electric aircraft. It is also working on a UK-based project to develop a concept for a larger eVTOL aircraft called the Skybus.