A “seraph” is an angelic being in Judaic, Christian, and Islamic beliefs. These celestial beings are most recognizable for their wings, which allows them to fly. For Bristol-based startup Vertical Aerospace, Seraph is still an angelic creature, only this one is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVOTL) prototype. Much like it’s winged namesake, the Seraph is capable of flight as well.
It was just back in August that Vertical Aerospace’s Seraph completed its maiden flight at Llanbedr Airfield in Wales. The prototype was built with the purpose of testing new technologies and systems that would be integrated in to an air taxi—an aircraft capable of carrying up to 250kg and reaching a top speed of 80 km per hour.
“Today is another major milestone on the path to carbon free flight,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Founder and CEO of Vertical Aerospace said of the flight. “One year ago, we flew a full scale electric VTOL aircraft, the UK’s first. Today we’re revealing flight footage of our second full scale prototype, the Seraph, an air taxy prototype capable of carrying 250kg. Air travel is one of the worst contributors to climate change and among the slowest sectors to decarbonize. Our mission at Vertical Aerospace is to make personal, on demand and carbon free flight a reality.”
This new prototype draws on the technology that has been moving Formula 1 vehicles into Formula E. It also demonstrates the versatility of Seraph. According to Vertical, Seraph “features a unique passive cooling system and a customizable design, meaning the aircraft can be made larger or smaller, fitted with wheels or floats to facilitate water landings.” Seraph is made from lightweight carbon fiber, which increases its payload without increasing its weight. Using carbon fiber also allows for greater aerodynamics. The aircraft uses 12 rotors that are mounted coaxially on six arms. The “unique passive cooling system” appears to be accomplished by placing the battery on the roof, where air wash from the side propeller tips can cool the battery and the electronics.
For now, Seraph will be used for testing as well as potentially carrying some heavy cargo, but no human passengers as of yet. Vertical Aerospace is working on a passenger-focused aircraft that will hopefully be available in 2020.