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B.C. helicopter operator Helijet has placed firm orders for eVTOL aircraft developed by Vermont-based Beta Technologies.
“It’s an exciting time for aviation right now,” said Danny Sitnam, president and CEO of Helijet, during an Oct. 31 press briefing at Helijet’s Victoria Harbour Heliport. “Make no mistake, Helijet wants to be at the forefront of this. We see the opportunity of electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles in the near future.”
Sitnam joined B.C. Premier David Eby, Beta sales director Skye Carapetyan, and executive director of the Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM) Consortium JR Hammond to announce the partnership.
The company said it chose Beta’s aircraft to join its fleet in part because of the eVTOL firm’s intention to certify the aircraft for instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. The company also believes the aircraft has the “potential to enhance Helijet’s provision of emergency response, air ambulance, and organ transfer services in the Lower Mainland, as well as support rural and remote communities.”
Helijet said it plans to integrate the electric aircraft into its existing helicopter network to serve southwestern B.C. and the Pacific Northwest with sustainable air transportation and cargo services. The Richmond, B.C.-based company is also looking at other eVTOL models to add to its operations, as well as updating its current heliport infrastructure to meet future vertiport standards.
“We can’t wait to continue this path of growth in Canada,” Beta’s Carapetyan said during the press briefing. “We are thrilled to have our first partner in Canada, and we are humbled that Helijet has selected us as their partner.”
The aircraft order is just the latest move in Helijet’s plan to tap into the eVTOL sector. In 2019, Helijet became a founding member of CAAM, the national organization for advanced air mobility (AAM) in Canada.
Hammond from CAAM believes Helijet’s purchase of Beta’s Alia aircraft is “an aviation milestone” for the province and the rest of Canada.
“With its mature air travel market demographic and existing challenges for conventional transportation between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, southern B.C. provides an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability and environmental sustainability of AAM in B.C. and Canada,” Hammond said.
In 2021, Helijet landed a deal with Blade Air Mobility, allowing the latter to acquire exclusive booking rights for Helijet’s scheduled helicopter airline service in Canada. The long-term goal of the partnership was to eventually introduce eVTOLs to key markets in B.C. and the Pacific Northwest.