Helicopter booking platform Blade Urban Air Mobility will partner with Ross Aviation to expand its services in preparation for the certification of eVTOL aircraft, including a pilot program offering daily helicopter flights from the company’s terminal at Westchester County Airport to Blade heliports in Manhattan, New York.
Blade, which recently announced plans to go public via a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Experience Investment Corp. (EIC), said it expects the five-day-per-week flights via Bell 407 to launch in March, costing approximately $175 per seat with plans to offer a commuter pass that reduces that price to $95.
Additionally, Blade and Ross Aviation intend to develop a plan to build a vertiport at Westchester County Airport that includes the infrastructure to hangar, charge, stage and deploy eVTOL aircraft, which Blade projects will be available by 2025.
“Following the introduction of [eVTOLs] into the aviation ecosystem, geographically-constrained areas like Manhattan will become much more accessible by air on a cost-effective basis,” said Blade chief technology officer Brandon Keene. “This pilot program, which uses conventional rotorcraft, will help us assess key use cases, drive schedule optimization, and determine flier needs for multi-modal connectivity.”
Beyond the greater New York area, Blade is exploring offering services and terminals at other Ross Aviation locations, including Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and Palm Springs and Long Beach, California, in the second half of 2021.
“When our sponsor KSL Capital Partners and I launched EIC, our goal was to leverage longstanding relationships, our network of industry connections and other KSL assets to help uncover attractive opportunities and expedite the growth plan for our merger partner,” said Eric Affeldt, CEO and Chairman of EIC. “This alliance creates an important partnership for Blade and Ross Aviation (a portfolio company of KSL Capital Partners) to accommodate EVA routes, maintenance and charging stations in key markets.”