As it continues to pursue a future in advanced air mobility, offshore helicopter operator Bristow Group has announced a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Vertical Aerospace to cooperate on the certification, operational planning, and potential purchase of up to 50 eVTOL aircraft.
The announcement comes less than a month after it was revealed that Bristow would be principal launch customer for Electra.aero’s hybrid electric short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft. The centerpiece of Bristow’s collaboration with Vertical Aerospace will be the British eVTOL developer’s VA-X4, a piloted, fully electric air taxi capable of carrying four passengers with a range of over 100 miles (160 kilometers) and top speed of up to 200 mph (320 km/h).
Bristow said the company expects to leverage its more than seven decades of transport expertise in helping Vertical Aerospace identify the regulatory, infrastructure, and environmental requirements for the VA-X4.
“Our MOU with Vertical allows us to build upon our leadership position in the vertical transportation market for the past 70+ years and now sets the stage for the disruptive advantages of the VA-X4 with its zero carbon emissions and low operating costs for passenger transport,” Bristow president and CEO Chris Bradshaw stated in a press release.
“Our expansion into these new and existing geographic markets with sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport services will offer passengers superior regional air mobility solutions. As the global leader in vertical lift, Bristow’s operational expertise and efficiency, supported by the trust and confidence of our customers, can safely bring eVTOL aircraft into the market,” he added.
The MOU provides for the establishment of a joint working group that will collaborate on regulations and airspace; demand, fleet size, spare parts, and infrastructure; potential customers; and public acceptance and environmental requirements. The companies will also explore possibilities for commercial taxi flights across various geographic locations.
“Bristow’s global expertise and reach means it is the perfect partner for Vertical as we seek to pioneer the transition to zero emissions flight. We look forward to working with Bristow and accelerating the commercial operation of eVTOLs,” said Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace’s founder and CEO.
Vertical expects to deliver 25 eVTOL aircraft to Bristow initially, with the option for another 25 aircraft.