The market for Urban Air Mobility (UAM)-vehicles has seen two significant order and partnership announcements this week, both from the same company. Houston-based helicopter specialist Bristow Group has signed orders for a combined 150 eVTOLs with Embraer’s EVE and Vertical Aerospace. Bristow gives EVE and Vertical a boost.

On September 21, Bristow announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Vertical to cooperate on the certification and operational planning of Vertical’s VA-X4 model. This includes regulatory and airspace, spare parts, and infrastructure. Bristow has a worldwide presence in the helicopter market, both on land and off-shore.

Bristow also pre-ordered 25 of the electric vehicles plus another 25 on option. It joins American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, GOL, Iberojet, Marubeni, and lessor Avolon as one of the major customers of Vertical. The Bristol-based company says it has now 1.350 pre-orders for the VA-X4 valued at $5.4 billion.

Artist impression of Bristow’s Vertical Aerospace VA-X4. (Bristow Group)

Two days later on September 23, Bristow announced another MoU with EVE. It includes the purchase of 100 EVA eVTOLs, but the agreement with Vertical also looks at the vehicle and vertiport design, operations, and regulatory aspects like certification and – at a later stage – autonomous operations. The comprehensive project will benefit the passenger and cargo market for all-electric air vehicles. “As the global leader in vertical lift, Bristow can leverage our operational expertise to help Eve design and build the next generation of aircraft that fully uses the many advantages of eVTOL aircraft in existing and new end markets”, Bristow CEO Chris Bradshaw says in a press statement.

Earlier this week, EVE announced a partnership with Helipass that will see the French company operate EVA’s for 50.000 flight hours per year across its network in France and Europe. Helipass has the option to double the number of hours, which will be for sight-seeing flights and passenger transfers.

The announcements are another confirmation of the booming UAM market. EVE has signed various agreements this year with companies all over the world to operate a fleet of EVA’s. Vertical’s order book has grown massively even before the first VA-X4 has flown, Joby got listed at Wall Street, and Archer Aerospace got a huge order from United and Mesa in February. This Tuesday, Airbus unveiled its CityAirbus NextGen vehicle that should be available in 2025.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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