Blade and Ross Aviation to build vertiport at Westchester
Blade Urban Air Mobility and Ross Aviation have entered into a strategic alliance to expedite the roll-out of urban air mobility services.
Blade plans to launch a pilot programme offering daily helicopter flights between Ross Aviation’s West Terminal at the Westchester County Airport and Blade heliport terminals in Manhattan. In 2019 alone, commuters took more than 40m trips commuting to and from New York City, the majority driving alone in a car for one to two hours in each direction, according to Blade.
Blade expects the five-day-per-week service to begin as early as March 2021, transforming that drive into a 10–15-minute flight. The price per flight per person is expected to be approximately $175. Blade expects to offer commuter passes sometime after launch that will reduce the per seat cost to $95.
“Even with the expected increase of remote working post-pandemic, we believe that intermittent commuting of one to two times per week between the suburbs and New York City will be a reality,” said Rob Wiesenthal, CEO of Blade.
Additionally, Blade and Ross Aviation intend to work together on a vertiport, located at Westchester. This will include the infrastructure required to hangar, charge and deploy electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) in the near future.
Brandon Keene, chief technology officer of Blade added, “Following the introduction of electric vertical aircraft [EVA] into the aviation ecosystem, geographically-constrained areas like Manhattan will become much more accessible by air on a cost-effective basis. The vertiport will also enable meaningful reduction of carbon emissions and the noise footprint of short distance aviation in the region.”
The two companies intend to work together to offer Blade services and terminals at one or more Ross Aviation FBOs in Bedford and Cape Cod, Massachusetts as well as Palm Springs/Thermal and Long Beach, California.
Blade is planning to go public via a merger with the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) or blank check company Experience Investment Corp. Through the merger, Blade will be valued at $825m. Experience Investment Corp was launched by KSL, a private equity firm, which is the largest investor in Ross Aviation.