The British civil helicopter operator Bristow Group agreed with the Australian aerospace manufacturer Electra Aero over the purchase of 50 self-charging hybrid-electric short take-off and landing aircraft eSTOL. Following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which both parties signed on August 26, 2021, companies agreed to collaborate in the plane development process.
Electra agreed to help Bristow in the search of new markets, where a new short take-off air vehicle could be used, while Bristow committed to acquire 50 low-emission planes. According to the Bristow statement, the British company currently operates a fleet of around 240 modern aircraft to serve various government and civil organizations.
The Chief Executive Officer of Bristow Chris Bradshaw outlined that the recently signed MoU will help the company to “take advantage of the unique capabilities of electric and hybrid power generation technologies” in order to “substantially lower carbon emissions and operating costs”.
“This will allow us to expand our expertise providing sustainable, innovative, and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport solutions into new potential end markets like moving time-sensitive cargo and passengers regionally,” Bradshaw was quoted saying in the statement.
Meanwhile, the founder of Electra Aero, John S. Langford, said that being a launch customer for eSTOL aircraft, Bristow will “benefit from early access” to the new aircraft, which is expected to deliver its customers extended payload options, as well as “substantially lower operating costs” than its potential competitors of the vertical take-off aircraft market.
The manufacturer claims that the plane is capable of takeoff from as small as 300 by 100 feet runways, and is powered by internal recharging batteries, which eliminate the need of building particular ground infrastructure to maintain such aircraft. According to Electra, eSTOL, which uses a proprietary proven blown lift technology, is capable of flying up to 7 passengers or around 1,800 pounds (8165 kg) of freight up to 500 nautical miles. It could be used for passenger flights as well for cargo operations, or medical missions.
eSTOL should be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as soon as 2026 with further expectations to be certified for operating in North American and European markets.