Helicopter operator Bristow today committed to buying up to 50 hybrid-electric STOL airplanes being developed by Electra Aero for air services starting in 2026, when the aircraft is set to enter service. Under a memorandum of understanding, Bristow will also support the startup in “development of the eSTOL aircraft’s operations, design, and safety features to meet customer, as well as FAA, EASA, and Transport Canada certification requirements.”
In addition, the two companies intend to jointly explore potential new applications for the hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing airplane, with a focus on middle-mile logistics needs for retailers.
The aircraft will feature Electra’s proprietary blown-lift design and eight electric motors, as well as an as-yet-unspecified turbogenerator to recharge batteries in flight. According to Virginia-based Electra, it will be able to carry between five and seven passengers or 1,800 pounds of cargo on trips of up to around 500 miles in all weather conditions. Currently unnamed, the eSTOL model is expected to need a surface of no more than 300 feet to take off and land, allowing it to operate many missions currently being performed by rotorcraft.
The move marks a significant departure for Bristow, which today operates a worldwide fleet of around 240 rotorcraft, mainly serving customers in the oil and gas sector, as well as providing services such as search-and-rescue for governments and civil organizations.
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