The UK is in a strong position to be the launch region for advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft, according to Dave Stepanek, Bristow’s executive vice president and chief transformation officer.
Speaking at the Advanced Air Mobility Expo in London, Stepanek said patience was required to reach the point where people were being transported around cities in air taxis.
But he said that progress was being made by the entire AAM industry and that the first aircraft could be in service by 2025 – with the highlands and islands of the UK a leading contender to accommodate their rollout.
Calling for a “pragmatic approach from day one”, Stepanek said: “We’re very excited about this, but we want to make sure that we understand what’s reality.
“We’re not interested right away in flying people offshore or making this urban mobility a day one thing. Let us prove to ourselves first that once we get a certified vehicle that we can operate the aircraft safely. The certification basis is the minimum to get the aircraft into service.
“It’s going to take companies like Bristow that understand the processes of operating in vertical space, operating in low altitude regions and operating in hazardous conditions, and how we can apply this.”
Bristow says it wants to “lead the world in innovative and sustainable vertical flight solutions”, and is working to introduce AAM aircraft into its fleet in the coming years.
The group has announced collaborations with multiple leading AAM manufacturers to provide safety, operational, certification, and logistics expertise to guide the launch of these new solutions.
Partners include EVE, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace.
Stepanek added: “Our first approach is going to be moving cargo or people for industry in a business to business model, or a business development model. We can test some things out here in the highlands and islands or somewhere in the United Kingdom or Northern Europe. I do believe this is going to be the initial launch point for some of the first aircraft.
“It’s going to take time: go back to the day of the Wright Brothers, that was a revolutionary moment in aerospace. We didn’t start moving millions of people the following month. We took a very pragmatic approach to aviation and its evolution, how it grew, and then we got the jet, which is another revolution in aerospace and that took time to sort out. Today, we have a revolutionary moment in aviation.”
Earlier this month, Bristow Group and Volocopter signed an agreement to explore and develop passenger and cargo services for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) AAM aircraft in the US and UK.
As part of this collaboration, Bristow placed a firm order for two VoloCity aircraft to be delivered after certification with an option to purchase a further 78 vehicles in the future.
Both parties will begin immediate cooperation to build a UAM ecosystem that includes regulatory discussions, infrastructure exploration, and local partnership building.
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