US plans order for smaller, electric-powered planes

American Airlines says it will invest in a company that is working on a small, electric plane that could someday carry people from city centers to airports and land vertically like a helicopter is

FORT WORTH, Texas – American Airlines said Thursday it plans to invest $25 million in UK-based Vertical Aerospace Group and is considering a $1 billion order for small, electric-powered planes that can fly helicopters. Can take off and land like that.

The US announcement comes as Vertical Aerospace revealed that it has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition firm Broadstone Acquisitions and become a publicly traded company later this year.

Americans will take a stake in Microsoft’s M12, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce and other public equity verticals through private investment or PIPE transactions. Another investor, Irish aircraft leasing company Avalon, said on Thursday it has placed a conditional order for 500 vertical planes worth $2 billion.

Vertical is working to develop a four-passenger electric plane that can carry people from city centers to airports. The company said it plans to conduct its first test flight later this year and expects to receive regulatory approval in early 2024.

American said it expects to “pre-order” up to 250 planes — suggesting a price tag of $40 million per plane — with 100 more options. The order hinges on the verticals fulfilling certain conditions, which the companies did not give details of.

The deal is the latest move by a major airline to show interest in developing technology around electric aircraft and alternative fuels. United announced a similar deal in February with another electric vertical-takeoff hopeful, Archer Aviation. Critics see the announcements as greenwashing by airlines whose planes are a growing source of climate-changing emissions.


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