Helicopter operator Bristow Group and Electra.aero, a developer of aviation technology solutions headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, have signed a memorandum of understanding to pursue a joint development agreement and purchase agreement under which the two firms will cooperate on the technical development and certification of Electra's hybrid-electric eSTOL aircraft, with an expected volume of 50 aircraft.
The two companies will collaborate on developing a full range of safety and operational features to ensure the new eSTOL aircraft's final configuration, specifications and design features meet customer as well as FAA, EASA and Transport Canada certification and timeline requirements. The companies will also explore new markets for Bristow operations utilising the Electra eSTOL, with a focus on middle mile logistics for retail distribution, expanding Bristow's service to its existing customer base and specialised passenger services. Bristow currently operates a fleet of approximately 240 aircraft for air mobility transport uses including oil and gas customers, SAR and government and civil organisations, with annual revenues of over $1.2 billion.
“Just as Bristow pioneered the vertical transportation market some 70 or more years ago, this MOU sets the stage for early collaboration and development between Bristow and Electra for a new class of aircraft that will allow us to take advantage of the unique capabilities of electric and hybrid power generation technologies to substantially lower carbon emissions and operating costs,” says Bristow president and CEO Chris Bradshaw. “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. As today's global leader in vertical lift, Bristow can leverage our operational expertise to help Electra design and build the next generation of aircraft that fully utilises the eSTOL concept in existing and new end markets.”
Electra founder and CEO John S. Langford adds: “Bristow's deep experience operating aircraft across a variety of missions is an excellent complement to the Electra team's extensive experience in designing and building innovative aircraft. This collaboration will lead to a more rigorous aircraft capable of addressing operators' needs across a variety of use cases and will help Electra develop and certify an eSTOL aircraft in as short a period of time as possible. As our principal launch operational customer, Bristow will benefit from early access to Electra's aircraft, which will deliver more than twice the payload, fly longer ranges, and have substantially lower operating costs than vertical take-off alternatives, with much less certification risk. We expect to deliver 50 or more aircraft to Bristow to provide low-emission transport services in exciting new markets.”
Electra's eSTOL aircraft can operate from runways as small as 300x100 ft using a proprietary proven blown lift technology where eight engines provide additional wing lift and hybrid-electric power that provides internal recharging capabilities for aircraft batteries, eliminating the need for new ground infrastructure. The quieter and more environmentally friendly aircraft is currently being designed to transport up to 1,800 pounds of cargo or move five to seven passengers about 400 to 500 miles. Electra's aircraft can operate in a variety of environments ranging from busy urban areas to remote landing strips and fly missions ranging from on-demand intracity flights to medical missions, cargo transportation, scheduled passenger service and more. With greater payload capabilities, longer range and lower operating costs than competitors, Electra says its eSTOL represents the next generation of novel aircraft.