Plenty of airlines have made announcements about getting involved in the urban mobility market, but industry newsletter TransportUp says American is the first to actually put some skin in the game. Last year, American said it would buy up to 250 Vertical Aerospace VX4 eVTOLs but like all of those other deals it was PR. American announced on Friday it has reserved 50 delivery slots and will write a check to hold them. “The commitment to pay pre-delivery payments and confirmation of slot reservations for the first 50 aircraft is believed to be the first for a major airline in the eVTOL industry, marking a significant milestone in the partnership between American and Vertical and a historical event for aerial mobility,” TransportUp said in its story on the deal.
Vertical has other customers and they’ve put up money, too, but the American deal is, well, a big deal. “Together, we are making zero-emissions flight a reality for passengers traveling all over the world,” said Vertical CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick. American CFO Derek Kerr said the airline is working on all aspects of its business to lessen its environmental impact and is “proud to take part in another step toward the development of advanced air mobility.” The VX4 carries four passengers and a pilot and the company says it will fly 100 miles at 175 knots. The motor pylons rotate for vertical flight and the wing provides lift for cruise.