Bristow Group has signed up with California-based Overair to collaborate on commercial development of the eVTOL Butterfly. Work is set to begin immediately, focusing on FAA certification planning and a safety operating culture.
Bristow president and CEO Chris Bradshaw says: "Our MoU with Overair allows us to advance our leadership position in the vertical transportation market that we've built over the past 70 or more years, and will now set the stage for the next generation of vertical flight. Our collaboration facilitates expansion into new high density geographic markets with sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport services. 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.”
Bristow has pre-ordered 20 to 50 of Overair's Butterfly aircraft, and both companies will work together to develop an operations development framework focusing on vehicle design considerations, key performance parameters, FAA certification, flight planning best practices, data sharing for improvement of flight operations, connected vehicle and health monitoring strategies, configuration and maintenance protocols, infrastructure, ground support operations, connected fleet management, and government affairs and promotion of eVTOL operations.
“Bristow's decades of vertical lift experience will greatly enhance Butterfly's path to commercialisation. Its operating insight, combined with our development and execution of the Butterfly programme, will position Butterfly to serve Bristow as a valuable workhorse on high density routes," adds Overair CEO Ben Tigner. "We're elated to learn from Bristow's practical expertise and ultimately deliver an aircraft optimised for its use cases.”
Bristow says it understands the benefits of a varied fleet and intends to diversify operations with Butterfly and other eVTOLs for commercial air taxi routes in metropolitan areas. Of the vehicles it is currently considering, Butterfly is the only aircraft with a vectored thrust configuration. In September last year, Bristow placed an order with Eve UAM for up to 100 EVA eVTOLs that it could use for commercial taxi flight operations. Delivery is due to begin in 2026. The company also pre-ordered 25 four passenger VA-X4 aircraft from Vertical Aerospace, with an option for a further 25. And in August it signed up to be principal launch customer with developer Electra for delivery of 50 self-charging eSTOL aircraft. The focus here is on middle-mile logistics for retail distribution and passenger service.
Bristow will optimise its fleet management strategy by matching eVTOL attributes with the most economically productive mission profiles. Butterfly's low noise profile, payload capacity and ability to fly in a broad range of weather conditions will be well suited for high density, noise sensitive routes in geographies with varied environmental concerns.