FISITA PLUS 2020 - Lawrence Blakeley: Maturing the UK Urban Air Mobility Industry



July 2020

Lawrence Blakeley, Head of Power Supply and Systems Installation, Vertical Aerospace, will be speaking at FISITA PLUS on Thursday 23 July about “Maturing the UK Urban Air Mobility Industry”. We asked him a few questions prior to the event.

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1. What are the major projects your organisation is currently working on?

Vertical Aerospace are focused on developing an electrical Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The objective is to provide personalised local air travel with an on-demand, sustainable and emissions free solution. The company is in the development of our next prototype (a winged concept capable of carrying 4 passengers, which will be a step change in vehicle capability from our previous full scale vehicles, clearly moving us forwards towards a certifiable product.

2. How has your work been affected by coronavirus?

There was some initial disruption in our day to day work at the beginning of lock down as we re-organised ourselves, however, now we are working with relative efficiency. I have found that focusing on smaller team activities and providing clear channels of communication has enable our progress to remain fairly unchanged. Plus creating an environment where those corridor conversations and social interactions can still occur has been important, taking the form of team breakfast’s or end of the ‘drinks’.

3. How long do you expect the impact of coronavirus will last and what long-term effects will it have on the areas of the industry that you focus on?

Aerospace as a whole has been significantly impacted by the global pandemic, as has been well published. However, electrification seems to be well on the agenda, both politically as well as economically, meaning our sector of aerospace has remained relatively untouched by the impacts of COVID. This should enable Vertical Aerospace to engage suppliers and partners more easily as we are offering growth and a strong business case in a time of economic uncertainty.

I am not expecting COVID to be a particular blocker in our current activities, however, in the long term I do expect it to change how people view mass transport. I expect people will become more conscious of the environment that they live in, and the health benefits of emission free travel in the urban environment. This should have a positive impact on an emission free and low passenger occupancy form of transportation.

4. What are you planning on talking about at FISITA PLUS and what types of people do you think will benefit from what you have to say?

I am planning on talking through the Vertical Aerospace journey so far, touching on how aerospace start-ups can be disruptive and competitive through innovative ways of working. I will cover our technology development to date and touch on our next aircraft iteration, and the steps foreseen to take this next concept from the drawing board through to the first passenger flights. Within this I will talk about some of the challenges we expect to face, and how we might go about addressing them. I will also cover my views on the UAM eco-system and the business opportunities a highly digitised electrical aircraft could offer.

Register to attend the Future Technologies session including Lawrence’s presentation on Thursday 23 July here. Lawrence will be presenting Maturing the UK Urban Air Mobility Industry with Sameer Savani, Head of Innovation and Engineering at ADS. There is a Spotlight post with Sameer's answers to the above questions here. Their presentation will follow the Leadership Interview by Paul Mascarenas OBE hosting Bryan Salesky, Argo AI Co-Founder & CEO.

Register for the Leadership Interview & Maturing the UK Urban Air Mobility Industry

FISITA PLUS is happening every Thursday throughout July. Find out more in a recent LinkedIn post by FISITA CEO Chris Mason. Replays of the first two sessions and registration for tomorrow and next week with a choice of European morning and afternoon sessions (to suit attendees in different time zones) are available as follows: