Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 20 seconds.
For Blade Air Mobility, arranging organ transportation flights is a lucrative side business that, unlike its core business of booking short-distance passenger flights, has seen no adverse impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s reason enough for the company to invest in growing its MediMobility division, which it did last week through the $23 million acquisition of Trinity Air Medical, a multi-modal organ logistics and transportation company that operates in 16 states.
According to Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal, however, the expansion is likely to offer an additional benefit: accelerating the adoption of eVTOL aircraft, or what the company calls electric vertical aircraft (EVA). That’s because organ transportation flights — which typically carry only a limited number of medical personnel, if they have passengers at all — offer a promising way to trial new EVA models before launching them in high-stakes passenger service.
“There’s so many things we don’t know about how pilots and passengers are going to react to EVA,” Wiesenthal told Vertical. Using EVA to move donor organs between hospitals is an opportunity to evaluate the noise, performance, and creature comforts of newly certified aircraft while simultaneously demonstrating their societal benefit — paving the way for their smooth entry into service as urban air taxis.
“We’re 100% convinced that people will react well to the idea,” Wiesenthal said. “It’s a really big win for us if we can get it done.”
Blade currently uses helicopters for the majority of its MediMobility and urban air mobility flights. The company does not operate aircraft itself, instead contracting with third-party air carriers for flight services. Trinity likewise has an asset-light business model and has historically contracted with ground ambulance and jet providers for its organ transport missions. Now, as part of Blade, Trinity will also leverage helicopters for the time and cost savings they can offer with point-to-point transportation.
In announcing the deal, Wiesenthal explained: “Given the existence of landing pads at most hospitals today, we have the ability to immediately replace Trinity’s ambulances with helicopters on certain hospital-to-hospital missions, while preparing for a transition to both existing ‘last-mile’ cargo drones as well as electric vertical aircraft, as soon as they become available.”