Helicopter specialist Bristow Group could take up to 80 Volocopter VoloCity electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft under a pact that will see the operator develop passenger and cargo services with the type in the USA and the UK.
Bristow has placed a “binding” firm order for two VoloCity aircraft, plus 78 options, says Volocopter.
It says the pair “will begin immediate co-operation” to build an urban air mobility “ecosystem”, including discussions with regulators, infrastructure studies and local partnerships.
Volcopter expects to receive European and US certifications for the two-seat VoloCity in 2024, enabling Bristow “to start commercial services in the USA shortly thereafter”.
Dave Stepanek, executive vice-president and chief transformation officer for Bristow, says: “Launching this collaborative effort with Volocopter marks a major milestone in Bristow’s effort to usher in a new era of vertical transportation solutions.”
Volocopter says it has taken pre-orders for more than 500 VoloCity aircraft, including 30 firm commitments.
It is the latest in a string of agreements from Bristow that has seen the rotorcraft stalwart sign deals that could see it take as many as 455 new-generation aircraft if all its orders and options are fulfilled.
Previous commitments include those for eVTOL aircraft with Beta Technologies (55), Eve (100), Lilium (50), Overair (50), and Vertical Aerospace (50), alongside a pact for Electra’s short take-off and landing fixed-wing aircraft (50), plus Elroy Air’s Chaparral cargo drone (100).
Save for five firm orders for the Beta ALIA-250, the rest of Bristow’s agreements have been tentative. However, in early August it reserved five early delivery slots for the Chaparral in a deposit-backed agreement.
The hybrid-electric Chaparral will carry 136kg (300lb) of cargo over a 260nm (482 km) range.
Elsewhere, Lilium on 7 September announced that it has selected Saint-Gobain Aerospace to supply the windows and windshield for its developmental Lilium Jet.