ABOVE: Paul Edwards (left) and Paul Mulachy (right) will join the VX4 flight test team

Bristol-based eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing craft) designers and developers Vertical Aerospace has appointed two new test pilots to strengthen the company’s flight test team.

Paul Edwards’ experience includes flying, evaluating and developing the Leonardo/Agusta Westland’s AW609 tiltrotor; work which earned him the Kincheloe Award in 2014. He has also test flown and evaluated several other helicopters. Paul Mulcahy was the Chief Test Pilot for the UK Civil Aviation Authority, and flew evaluation and certification flights on many Part 25 and Part 23 aircraft worldwide.

Flight testing of Vertical’s VX4 eVTOL is scheduled to recommence in Spring 2024, with Vertical noting that the ‘exceptional flight expertise’ of its new pilots will be ‘vital as [the company] continues the momentum in [its] flight test campaign’.

Although the flight test programme suffered a setback in August 2023 (when its first aircraft was damaged in an incident at Kemble), a second full-scale demonstrator (assembled at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre) is expected to be ready to fly early next year. Including advanced components from Honeywell, GKN Aerospace, Hanwa, Solvay, Leonardo and Molicel, the new aircraft is described by Vertical as being ‘significantly more advanced’. Additionally, a second identical full-scale aircraft is expected to join the flight test campaign in the second half of 2024.

In a letter to shareholders in May 2023, Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick noted: “At Vertical, we believe that flying piloted full-scale demonstrators from the beginning of the certification journey maximises learnings which will pave the way for a final optimized certification-ready aircraft”.