Aircraft leasing company Avolon and Vertical Aerospace have announced a "ground-breaking" $2 billion order for up to 500 electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

The agreement will introduce the ultra-short-haul aircraft category to commercial aviation, which Avolon said was a game changing development that will revolutionise air travel with zero emissions aircraft.

Today's deal is still subject to certain closing conditions.

Vertical Aerospace, a British aerospace manufacturer based in Bristol, designs and builds zero carbon, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) electrically powered aircraft.

Avolon said the deal will combine its scale and deep industry relationships with Vertical's leading technological position in the eVTOL space.

It will see both companies collaborate throughout the development, road map to certification and subsequent commercial roll-out of the VA-X4 aircraft.

The VA-X4 is a piloted, zero emissions electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) vehicle.

It will be capable of travelling over 200 miles an hour, with a range of over 100 miles and capacity for four passengers and a pilot.

The aircraft takes off vertically which enables it to operate in and out of cities and other confined locations. The VA-X4 is 100 times quieter and safer than a helicopter.

Avolon will join Microsoft, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell and American Airlines as equity investors in Vertical, working also with Virgin Atlantic who will be a VA-X4 launch airline customer in Europe.

Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, said today's deal demonstrates the company's commitment to a net zero carbon economy and to driving innovation in the global aviation sector.

"Our order with Vertical will also accelerate the inevitable commercial roll-out of zero emissions aircraft. Before the end of this decade, we expect zero emission urban air mobility, enabled by eVTOLs, to play an increasingly important role in the global commercial aviation market," Dómhnal Slattery said.

He said today's order reaffirms Avolon's position as an industry pioneer, adding that Avolon and Vertical will "revolutionise" air travel and continue to reduce the impact of its industry on the environment.

"In Vertical, we have identified a long-term strategic operator that shares our vision for a cleaner and more efficient mode of air transport.

"As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, air travel will be materially reshaped with airlines needing to embrace emerging technologies that decarbonise air travel," the CEO added.