Vertical Aerospace founder steps down as CEO as company enters new phase

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Vertical Aerospace founder Stephen Fitzpatrick is turning over the reins of the company to Chief Financial Officer Stuart Simpson as the U.K.-based electric vertical take-off and landing developer prepares to fly its second full-scale VX4 prototype.

Simpson — who joined Vertical last year from the internet security company Avast — takes over as CEO effective immediately. Fitzpatrick, having recently committed up to $50 million of his own money to carry Vertical through its upcoming flight test campaign, will remain on the company’s board and plans to stay “very involved” with fundraising and strategy going forward.

Related: Vertical CEO makes $50 million wager on flight test progress

“As we start to think about that path to certification and industrialization, I certainly have felt for quite some time … it’s probably time to step back and allow a more experienced leadership team to manage the commercial operations of the business,” Fitzpatrick said in an interview with The Air Current.

“I am better in times of pretty rapid change. … When things become more steady, predictable and we just know what we have to do and get the job done, it’s not really my natural habitat,” he said. While no eVTOL startup is exactly steady or predictable compared to more established businesses, “in terms of the CEO’s role of the company, to be full-time ambassador, to be in every stakeholder meeting, to be able to manage internal relationships, external relationships and so on, I think that’s not going to be the best use of my time and I’m not going to be the best person for that,” Fitzpatrick said.

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