Leonardo and Vertical Aerospace team up on electric aircraft fuselage

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FILE PHOTO: Leonardo's logo is seen during celebrations for the 500th Eurofighter Typhoon produced by the European consortium

MILAN – Italy’s Leonardo and UK-based Vertical Aerospace will work together to develop the fuselage for Vertical’s VX4 electric aircraft, they said on Tuesday.

The two groups will design, test and manufacture a carbon composite fuselage for at least six certification aircraft, with the possibility to extend to production of 2,000 jets a year if the all-electric VX4 is successfully certified, they said.

The deal could provide a new stream of orders for Leonardo’s Aerostructures division whose plants in southern Italy have suffered from a sharp fall in orders from Boeing and Airbus amid the pandemic.

“We will focus our VX4 activities at our Grottaglie plant,” said Giancarlo Schisano, managing director of Leonardo’s Aerostructures division.

The factory in Apulia normally produces fuselages for Boeing 787 jets.

Vertical has preliminary orders for its four-passenger, zero emission VX4 for up to 1,350 aircraft worth $5.4 billion from several groups including American Airlines, the two groups said in a statement.

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(Reporting by Francesca Landini; editing by Jason Neely)