Vertical Aerospace Becomes Fourth eVTOL Company to Go Public

U.K.-based air taxi startup Vertical Aerospace has officially become a publicly traded company, following its merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp.

Vertical says it now has more than 1,350 conditional pre-orders of its VX4 aircraft. Courtesy: Vertical Aerospace

U.K.-based air taxi startup Vertical Aerospace (NYSE: EVTL) has officially become a publicly traded company, following its merger with Broadstone Acquisition Corp. (“Broadstone”) (NYSE: BSN). 

The merger, which was approved by shareholders in a proxy vote on Tuesday, allows Vertical to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Of the shareholders present for the vote, more than 87 percent of them approved the merger, according to SEC filings. 

To commemorate the listing, Vertical will ring the opening bell on the NYSE on Friday, the 118th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight.

In a statement Thursday, founder and CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick called the listing a “landmark” for the company he founded in 2016 and celebrated the partners and team which Vertical has garnered up to this point.

“We have global leaders in aviation as partners and a world-class team that can make the zero-emissions flight a reality for millions of people around the world. It is fantastic to reach this milestone and I am so proud of what the team has achieved,” Fitzpatrick said.

Vertical becomes the fourth eVTOL company to go public this year, all using special purpose acquisition companies, also known as SPACs. The others are Joby, Archer, and Lilium.

The SPAC-IPO with Broadstone is valued at approximately $2.2 billion, and proceeds of the deal yield approximately $300 million, almost $100 million less than previously anticipated. Still, Vertical says it only expects to spend $250 million of the proceeds to get its launch aircraft certified and scale production.

In the statement, Hugh Osmond, chairman of Broadstone, said, “Vertical Aerospace is at the forefront of electric aviation, a fast-growing sector that will dramatically reimagine the entire aviation market. With the endorsement of key partners, suppliers, and investors we are confident that our partnership with Stephen and Vertical’s gifted team of innovators will disrupt transportation over the next decade to come.”

Recent Milestones

Vertical has received investments from American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, and Rolls-Royce; Microsoft's M12, 40 North, and Rocket Internet SE have also invested in the business.

Vertical says it now has more than 1,350 conditional pre-orders of its VX4 aircraft, totaling $5.4 billion. A spokesperson for Vertical told FLYING that no capital has been exchanged yet for the pre-orders and that the deposits are conditional based upon Vertical’s ability to gain certification for the VX4. 

Ahead of the vote, Vertical last week unveiled a full-sized eVTOL model of the VX4. According to Vertical, the aircraft would be a 200 mph, single-pilot, four-passenger eVTOL with a noise level 100 times quieter than a helicopter in cruise. The company says it will have a range of more than 100 miles and hopes to achieve certification by 2024. It says Heathrow Airport in London will serve as an infrastructure launch partner.

Derek Kerr, chief finance officer of American Airlines, congratulated Vertical, saying his company was excited to work with companies “that reduce carbon emissions.” Meanwhile, Dómhnal Slattery, chief executive of leasing company Avolon, said, among other things, Vertical has the “right aircraft.”

Vertical Hopes to be Different

Vertical hopes that its differentiated model of business will separate it from other public competitors, which have plans to also be customer-facing and offer ride-sharing, instead of being a pure-play OEM.

It has been an interesting year for SPACs, especially those in the advanced air mobility sector. As previously reported, in February, when Archer (NYSE: ACHR) and Atlas Crest Investment Corp. (NYSE: ASCII) initially announced their merger plan, proceeds were expected to be about $1.1 billion. But during a vote in September, 48.5 percent of eligible shareholders exercised redemption rights, resulting in $242 million less in revenue. 

It was a similar story this summer for Lilium (NASDAQ: LILM) and Joby (NYSE: JOBY), who also saw dramatically lower proceeds.

When Volocopter, another large advanced air mobility company, canceled its SPAC in early December, all the focus was on Vertical, which indicated in June its SPAC-IPO plans.

Michael Wildes holds a master’s degree in Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Previously, he worked at the university’s flight department as a Flight Check Airman, Assistant Training Manager, and Quality Assurance Mentor. He holds MEI, CFI & CFII ratings. Follow Michael on Twitter @Captainwildes.

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