Helicopter provider Bristow has reached an agreement with German electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) developer Volocopter for up to 80 of its VoloCity aircraft.
As part of the agreement, Bristow has placed a firm order for two VoloCity aircraft to be delivered after certification, with an option to purchase a further 78 vehicles in the future.
Volocopter is seen as one of the leading eVTOL aircraft developers currently looking to secure certification and ultimately carry passengers.
The two parties have also signed an agreement to explore and develop passenger and cargo services for eVTOL aircraft in the United States (US) and the UK.
The partnership will also look to build an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) ecosystem that includes regulatory discussions, infrastructure exploration, and local partnership building.
The joint development agreement covers the exploration of commercial, operational, and eVTOL aircraft maintenance services, including adaptation of the VoloIQ.
The VoloIQ is the ‘digital brains’ behind Volocopter’s eVTOL ecosystem. The cloud-based platform will manage everything from the VoloCity air taxis to urban integration efforts and a passenger app.
Volocopter expects to receive final certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2024. Concurrent certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could enable the company to start commercial services in the US shortly thereafter.
Dave Stepanek, executive vice president, and chief transformation officer for Bristow, said: “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 has taken a pragmatic approach to certification with a simple and elegant initial aircraft design and is leading the pack in its efforts to bring their aircraft to market. We are looking forward to lending our 75+ years of innovation and expertise in bringing new aircraft into service and developing new markets side-by-side Volocopter.”
In April 2023, Volocopter opened its first aircraft production facility, at which it is expected to produce 50 VoloCity vehicles per year.
“Our partnership with Bristow and the firm VoloCity orders received propels us forward as we unlock new markets. With this collaboration, Volocopter surpassed 500 pre-orders accumulated including nearly 30 firm orders from reputational partners. I am filled with excitement toward the vast potential of the US and UK markets and looking forward to working with Bristow’s experienced team as we prepare for operations,” Christian Bauer, CFO & CCO of Volocopter, said.