Blade partners with BETA Technologies and Jet Linx
Blade Urban Air Mobility announced a binding agreement to secure up to 20 BETA Technologies ALIA Electric Vertical Aircraft (EVA) for purchase by Blade operators or third-party financing sources who will enter into leasing arrangements with operators.
The vehicles are scheduled for delivery in late 2024, ahead of the BETA’s 2025 target for its launch of EVA services. Blade intends to deploy these initial BETA EVAs on routes between its network of dedicated terminals in the Northeast US, where BETA has agreed to provide and install charging infrastructure at certain key locations.
Blade also entered into an arrangement with aircraft operator Jet Linx Aviation, supported by equity capital from RedBird Capital Partners relating to the purchase of EVAs from BETA.
The arrangement enables Jet Linx to own and operate EVA for Blade flights, subject to entering into definitive agreements. BETA will support EVA purchases by Jet Linx and other Blade operators through minimum flight hour guarantees. RedBird is a strategic investor in both BETA and Blade.
Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal said: “ALIA is a full-scale EVA flying in piloted configuration almost every day. The team’s progress is formidable. BETA’s scheduled delivery beginning in 2024 is ahead of our current projected deployment of EVA in 2025.”
Wiesenthal said the ALIA’s six-person capacity, range and cold weather capabilities make it ideal for key Northeast US missions. “We believe it has a lower risk path to certification. At the same time, we remain focused on our work with other leading aerospace manufacturers, continuing our strategy of deploying the most appropriate EVA model for each of our specific routes.”
Blade is BETA’s first urban air mobility partner. However, it recently announced a partnership with UPS for its cargo operations. United Therapeutics, which specialises in organ transportation, and the U.S. Air Force are also working with the company’s ALIA.
Kyle Clark, BETA’s founder and CEO, said: “BETA is a pragmatic company building pragmatic aircraft. It’s clear that the simplicity of our approach, strength of our technology, consistent progress against our timelines as well as the expertise of our team resonates with the best operators in the world.”
According to BETA, ALIA can fly six people 250nms (465kms) on a single charge and the aircraft is more than 10x quieter than a helicopter and quieter than cars on a highway.
As part of the agreement, BETA has committed that ALIA will meet the necessary specifications required to operate on Blade’s key routes prior to delivery. The aircraft must receive FAA type certification before the scheduled delivery date. Blade has committed to facilitate the purchase of at least five and up to 20 aircraft.
The agreement between Blade and BETA relating to the purchase of ALIA EVAs is conditioned on completion of Blade’s Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) merger.
Blade is in the process of becoming a public company through a merger with SPAC, Experience Investment Corp. This will value Blade at $825m.