Bristow pre-orders up to 50 Butterfly eVTOLs in Overair deal

Helicopter operator Bristow has pre-ordered between 20 and 50 Butterfly five-seat passenger eVTOLs as part of a new partnership with Californian start-up Overair.

A piloted, zero carbon operating emissions, low-noise eVTOL, the Butterfly is capable of carrying five passengers with cargo at a range of more than 100 miles (161km) with a top speed of 200mph (174 knots) in all-weather conditions. FAA certification is expected in 2025.

Butterfly (pictured) is said to feature low maintenance costs and mechanical simplicity, which allows high vehicle uptime and utilisation, increasing operator margins and enabling value to be passed to passengers.

The partners plan to explore commercial taxi flights in new and emerging markets for Bristow operations using the Overair aircraft in high-density geographic locations. The helicopter operator will advise Overair on a range of topics. These include: vehicle design, key performance metrics, best flight planning practices, maintenance protocols, infrastructure and ground support operations and operations data sharing. The helicopter operator has also agreed to promote the launch of eVTOL commercial operations.

Bristow president and CEO Chris Bradshaw said the partnership will help to set the stage for the next generation of vertical flight. “Our collaboration facilitates expansion into new high-density geographic markets with sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport services,” said Bradshaw. “As the global leader in vertical lift, Bristow’s operational expertise and efficiency, supported by the trust and confidence of our customers, can safely bring eVTOL aircraft into the market.”

Overair CEO Ben Tigner said the deal will speed Butterfly’s path to commercialisation. “Their [Bristow’s] operating insight, combined with our development and execution of the Butterfly programme, will position Butterfly to serve Bristow as a valuable workhorse on high-density routes,” he said. “We’re elated to learn from Bristow’s practical expertise and ultimately deliver an aircraft optimised for their use cases.”

The new partnership follows Bristow’s similar deals forged with Embraer’s Eve Urban Air Mobility, Vertical Aerospace and Electra Aero.

The Overair Butterfly – at a glance

  • Passengers: Five
  • Range: 100 miles
  • Top speed: 200mph
  • Maintenance: Low costs & mechanical simplicity claimed. Said to enable high vehicle uptime & utilisation, increasing operator margins
  • FAA certification: Expected in 2025.

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