Eve, Blade to offer helicopter flights for UAM simulation in Chicago
By eVTOL | August 23, 2022
Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 20 seconds.
Embraer’s Eve has its sights set on Chicago for a possible urban air mobility (UAM) route. To test out this plan, the eVTOL developer is partnering with Blade Air Mobility to offer helicopter flights to Chicago commuters, demonstrating what an air taxi service could look like in the future.
The companies plan to conduct test flights over three weeks starting on Sept. 14. Seats can be booked on Blade’s website for weekday morning and afternoon flights.
Using helicopters powered by Blade as a substitute for eVTOL aircraft, passengers will be transported from Vertiport Chicago, an existing downtown heliport, to two helistops — the Schaumburg Municipal Helistop northwest of Chicago and the Tinley Park Helistop southwest of the city.
Through the simulation, the companies aim to study operations, ground services, passenger journeys and eVTOL operator needs, gleaning information on the infrastructure and ecosystem that the city of Chicago would need in order to launch UAM in the region.
“Simulating the eVTOL operation in Chicago allows us to study how people will experience this service and understand the entire ecosystem requirements for our product and services, while showcasing the benefit of urban air mobility in one of North America’s most prominent and populated cities,” said André Stein, co-CEO of Eve.
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The UAM simulation in Chicago builds on Eve’s existing relationship with Blade in which the helicopter operator plans to use Eve’s eVTOL air taxis for its services in South Florida and the West Coast markets.
Along with Eve and Blade, a consortium of partners will also help with the simulation. This includes Republic Airways, Halo Aviation, Vertiport Chicago, Village of Tinley Park, Village of Schaumburg, Acciona, SkyWest Inc. and Speedbird Aero.
“Our proposal brings together all stakeholders and counts on different views and feedback to structure and deliver the best solutions,” said Luiz Mauad, vice president of services and fleet operations at Eve.
This is Eve’s first North American UAM simulation. Last year, the company worked with local helicopter charter operator Helisul Aviação to conduct a 30-day flight simulation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The simulation aimed to map out air taxi operations in the region and led to the startup publishing its concept of operations in Rio de Janeiro in May.
I was already bullish on Blade but this is good news for Eve as well. I felt like Joby and Archer were going to dominate the U.S. market with its partnerships. Eve can really take marketshare in both the United States and Brazil. Blade is smart for keeping its business model asset light and focusing on scaling its total trips. You could choose between Eve, Joby, Archer, etc. It’s a tossup but Blade is the clear winner here.
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