Helijet becomes BETA’s latest customer and first Canadian firm to order eVTOLs
Helijet International is planning to become the first Canadian air carrier to use eVTOLs after it placed firm orders for BETA Technologies’ Alia aircraft.
Announced at Helijet’s Victoria Harbour Heliport, the operator plans to integrate BETA’s aircraft into its existing network of helicopter services for travellers in southwestern B.C. and the Pacific Northwest. The electric aircraft’s vertical take-off and landing capability will also improve Helijet’s emergency response, air ambulance and organ transfer services, as well as supporting rural and remote communities.
Helijet’s decision to become BETA’s first commercial customer in Canada is due in part to the OEM’s intention to certify the aircraft for IFR (instrument flight rules) operations. Also, BETA is growing its presence across the country, it recently opened an R&D facility based out of the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport.
Danny Sitnam, Helijet President and CEO said: “We are proud to partner with BETA Technologies, who are leaders in the AAM space. We are committed to introducing and integrating zero-emission, vertical lift technologies and related ground/building infrastructure in the communities we serve and look forward to transforming our current heliport infrastructure to meet future urban air mobility vertiport standards.”
BETA’s selection marks another milestone for the company, it said. The firm has conducted qualitative evaluation flights with the FAA, US Air Force and US Army, completed multiple thousand-mile-plus missions across the US using its own charging infrastructure and recently opened its 188,500sqft production and assembly facility.
Kyle Clark, BETA’s founder and CEO said: “Between our growing engineering hub in Montreal, our first cross-border flight to the region earlier this year, and the support we’ve received from the government and regulators across Canada, we look forward to continuing to grow our presence in the country. To be able to do that in partnership with the foremost operator in British Columbia is very exciting.”
The purchase of BETA eVTOL aircraft is the latest demonstration of Helijet’s commitment to AAM. In 2019, Helijet became a founding member of Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM), which has created a 100+ member ecosystem comprised of industry, academia, capital and government members both nationally and internationally.
CAAM executive director JR Hammond said: “Helijet’s purchase of BETA Technologies’ revolutionary Alia aircraft is an aviation milestone for AAM in B.C. and Canada. CAAM’s mission is to build an ecosystem of national collaboration in AAM and create a sustainable, equitable and profitable AAM industry in 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.”
Over the past two years, Helijet shortlisted three aircraft manufacturers developing eVTOLs. In addition to BETA’s Alia, the firm said it will continue to consider other shortlisted aircraft make and models for order. Helijet is also leading the development of Canada’s first commercial vertiport at its downtown Vancouver waterfront heliport.
British Colombia premier, David Eby added: “This provincial government recognises the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonise the aviation sector, improve regional connectivity, improve emergency response times and introduce new manufacturing opportunities in our province. We congratulate Helijet on their exciting news and look forward to British Columbia becoming a leader in the advanced air mobility sector.”