GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes (G3, Sao Paulo Congonhas) has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) with lessor Avolon to add up to 250 Vertical Aviation VA-X4 electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with deliveries potentially starting in mid-2025.

The carrier said that its plan to add the VA-X4s is a part of its strategy to improve connectivity to underserved regional markets in Brazil. The first step in this strategy was the acquisition of MAP Linhas Aéreas (7M, Manaus) in June 2021.

GOL said the transaction would be financed by Grupo Comporte, an investment vehicle of the Constantino family. The Constantinos also control Fundo Volluto and Fundo Mobi, two funds that jointly hold a 53.8% stake in GOL.

The parties will start the partnership with a feasibility study, then discussions with the appropriate regulators, and then the actual certification drive. Avolon said it hoped the VA-X4 would be certified in Brazil by the end of 2024, in time for mid-2025 induction into revenue service. The VA-X4 is designed by UK-based start-up Vertical Aerospace and can seat up to four passengers and a single pilot, with an advertised range of 160 kilometres and a maximum speed of 320 km/h. The manufacturer hopes to conduct the first test flight of the type by the end of 2021.

"The VA-X4 is ideal for a city like Sao Paolo with a population of over 22 million people. Our eVTOLs will transform how we travel around high population density cities that are clogged with traffic by taking to the skies with zero-emissions aircraft," Vertical Aerospace's Chief Executive Stephen Fitzpatrick said.

Avolon placed a tentative order for 500 XA-V4s in June 2021. The lessor also announced plans to invest in Vertical Aerospace. American Airlines has pre-ordered 250 units directly from the manufacturer, while Virgin Atlantic has tentatively signed up for 150 units from Avolon's order book.

Separately, Vertical Aerospace has also entered into a partnership with UK-based helicopter operator Bristow Group to jointly work on the certification, market research, maintenance and spares, and other regulatory aspects of bringing the VA-X4 to the market. The agreement also includes a tentative order for 25 units with options for a further 25.