Air taxis may not be flying yet but they are already a lot like buses. You wait ages for one business jet operator to get involved and then two come along at once. This week both Jet Linx Aviation and Wheels Up announced new ventures with electric vertical vehicle companies.
Jet Linx has now announced a partnership with helicopter operator and urban air mobility company Blade Urban Air Mobility. Blade has committed to buy at least five – and possibly up to 20 – Alia eVTOL aircraft from Beta Technologies. It says it will support the purchase of the aircraft by operator partners like Jet Linx.
Blade and Jet Linx hope to start commercial flights in 2025. Beta says its Alia aircraft can carry six people over 250nms in one charge. Beta has also announced agreements with UPS and United Therapeutics.
A Beta spokesperson told Corporate Jet Investor they are on track to meet the 2025 target: “We’re in nearly constant communication with the FAA and test flying our aircraft multiple times a week.”
Wheels Up announced a partnership with Bell Textron to “develop short and long-term solutions for VTOL aircraft”. Wheels Up is, of course, already a key customer of Textron Aviation with its King Airs.
There are a lot of details missing from both announcements. But, in principle, the ideas make sense. Other operators – including Luxaviation in Europe – are also studying the market closely.
As is Directional Capital. It acquired Associated Aircraft Group – which operates 10 helicopters in the Northeast US – from Lockheed Martin in January.
“Once our clients arrive at an airport, be it in the USA or Europe, many times they still need to extend their journey to reach their final destination,” said Andrew Collins, CEO, Sentient Jet. “Currently the helicopter category helps to solve this need in specific geographic areas. It also prepares the consumer, psychologically, for what is likely the next phase of aviation travel beyond jets.”
Wheels Up has revealed a partnership with Bell Textron to “develop short and long-term solutions for VTOL aircraft”.