While conventional airlines struggle for more environmentally friendly alternatives to jet fuel, a host of startups are betting on zero-emission flight using electric power.

They will not carry a hundred passengers across the Atlantic – but in the global race to develop an air taxi, two firms – one British and one German – have unveiled significant recent breakthroughs this month.

The Bristol-based Vertical Aerospace flew its Seraph prototype around an airfield in Wales, carrying a load of 250kg. Meanwhile, in Munich its rival Lilium released footage of its futuristic electric jet making the key transition from a vertical takeoff to forward flight.

These technical milestones have been accompanied by announcements of further investment: a factory for Lilium that will be capable of building 100 aircraft a year, while Vertical Aerospace have snapped up a Formula One consultancy to bring in extra engineering expertise to hone the final model.

Both companies claim a potential transformation of domestic transport could be only three to five years away.



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