UK-based Vertical Aerospace has disclosed leadership moves at the top of the company, with founder Stephen Fitzpatrick relinquishing his role as chief executive, to be replaced by the firm’s current finance chief Stuart Simpson.

Effective immediately, Vertical says the changes come as the company “moves towards a pivotal phase of certifying its VX4 aircraft and commercialisation”.  

Verticals VX4 electric aircraft _Credit Vertical Aerospace

Source: Vertical Aerospace

Vertical is developing its VX4 eVTOL aircraft

Simpson joined Vertical in 2023 from Avast, a FTSE100 global leader in digital security and privacy, where he was group CFO. He has previously held senior roles in the technology, automotive and logistics sectors.

“It’s been phenomenal to experience the progress the business has made since I joined, and I could not be more excited to move into this role,” he says.

“I look forward to working with our formidable team in progressing our path to certification, bringing in additional investment and taking the VX4 to market.” 

Recruitment of Simpson’s successor as CFO is now under way, Vertical adds.

Fitzpatrick, who in March injected $25 million into the business, will remain on Vertical’s board “focused on business strategy and working with the executive team to deliver on the company’s vision”, it says. He had held the chief executive role since 2021.

“I am immensely proud of all that the team has achieved over the past four years as Vertical leads the world into a new era of electric flight and becomes a British engineering success story,” says Fitzpatrick.

Vertical is developing its VX4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and is pushing towards a goal of securing certification by late 2026.

A second VX4 prototype was recently transferred to Vertical’s flight-test centre at Cotswold airport in Gloucestershire, where final assembly “nears completion” ahead of a maiden sortie later this quarter.

In addition, Vertical has strengthened its board with the appointment of Ben Story. Most recently the chief operating officer of investment firm Sustainable Development Capital, he has also held senior positions at Rolls-Royce and Citi, and is a board member at Transport for London.