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A new form of cargo plane that takes off like a helicopter is being developed at Lydd Airport

06 March 2014
by Sam Lennon

The first of hundreds of a unique cargo plane could be built in three months.

4X4 Aviation, based at Lydd Airport, now has the financing needed for its multi-million pound project, to start building planes that take off vertically and land like helicopters.

Company founder and director Thorsten Reinhardt said: “We now have a significant sum in sponsorship to get started and we hope to build 300 to 400 of these aeroplanes a year.”

The new VV cargo plane being developed at Lydd Airport.

The new VV cargo plane being developed at Lydd Airport.

Details of the sponsors and their sums provided are being kept confidential but the project overall is expected to be worth £6 to £7 million.

The company itself has already invested almost £560,000 towards the project and the project is expected to create 50 to 60 jobs at the airport over the next five years.

Financing has also come from a £120,000 loan from Kent County Council’s business support scheme East Kent Expansion.

4X4 had previously said it had been raising money through crowd funding, a system looking for big and small investors with a minimum offer of £10.

The types of aircraft are four-winged VV Planes. The cargo planes will have an enormous hollow in the middle to land on and fit in a container.

Thorsten Reinhardt, the man behind a new form of aeroplane being developed at Lydd Airport.

Thorsten Reinhardt, the man behind a new form of aeroplane being developed at Lydd Airport.

The first plane, expected to be made by this summer, is a miniature remote-controlled drone-style with a wingspan of up to 2 metres. It will take small cargos of up to 10kg such as medical supplies.

Otherwise two forms of this plane will mostly be made, one for 30-plus tonnes of cargo measuring 18 by 18 metres and another for 10-plus tonnes.

They are a type called VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), taking off and landing like helicopters and Harrier Jump Jets rather than needing runways. This means they are more flexible and easier to manoeuvre in most environments.

The company is also developing a VV remote control model plane and a two-passenger microlight type.

Mr Reinhardt, a 31-year-old German who lives in Godinton, Ashford, is the patent holder of the VV and designed it in 2004.

The company set up at Lydd Airport last November and details of the project were first revealed by the KM in January.

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