FINN presenter Bryn Lucas talks about key milestones and market demand – from regulation and certification to the importance of future talent in the industry – with Michael Cervenka, President, Vertical Aerospace Ltd.

Despite the hurdle of COVID-19, the last 2 years have been particularly important in terms of “exponential growth” for Vertical Aerospace. With their listing on the New York Stock Exchange last year, a wide roster of partners and investors with companies like Microsoft, Honeywell, Rolls Royce and American Airlines, there is that “untapped market demand”, explained Cervenka.

“We’ve got the highest value order book with 1350 aircraft all over the world. It’s a really exciting time for the company.”

Commercial operation in 2025

“In terms of where we are, we’ve already flown two full-scale prototypes. We are flying our first winged experimental prototype this year, and that’s a key learning opportunity to then take us through into an extensive certification programme. With the end goal of going into commercial operation in 2025.”

Transition to a mass transport mode

“If you look at aviation historically, there has been really good alignment, so having spent 25 years in aviation it’s quite strange we see this disconnect between the exact rules being set in America and Europe. I think they will converge, the view of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is this is a way to get the market to start, but as it transitions into a mass transport mode, it will have to have safety levels at least equivalent to commercial airlines.”

Future talent, scholars and university opportunities

On future workforce and talent, Cervenka explained the sheer importance of implementing themselves in universities and various programmes. “From a talent point of view, it is so crucial. We see a real opportunity working with universities, and have seen this already. We’ve got our first graduates, we had 500 applicants for 4 spaces. We’re sponsoring a black scholarship programme for black scholars at Bristol University. So creating that buzz and excitement for us is crucial to everything long term.”

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