Helijet Begins Process To Establish First eVTOL Technologies Based Passenger Service In Canada
Purchase of ALIA eVTOL aircraft a significant step forward for Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) in British Columbia
North America’s largest and longest standing helicopter airline, Helijet International Inc., today announced plans to become the first Canadian air carrier to provide passenger and cargo services using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft after placing firm orders for ALIA eVTOL aircraft from BETA Technologies. Helijet President and CEO Danny Sitnam and BETA Sales Director Skye Carapetyan made the announcement with British Columbia Premier David Eby at Helijet’s Victoria Harbour Heliport.
Helijet will integrate the BETA-designed aircraft into its existing network of helicopter services, providing quieter, lower cost, sustainable air transportation for travelers in southwestern B.C. and the Pacific Northwest. The electric aircraft’s vertical take-off and landing capability will also have tremendous potential to enhance Helijet’s provision of emergency response, air ambulance and organ transfer services in the Lower Mainland, as well as support rural and remote communities that do not have access to affordable and convenient air services.
Built by electric aerospace company BETA Technologies, the five-passenger + pilot configured ALIA eVTOL aircraft is currently in advanced flight standards development towards commercial regulatory certification in 2026 and will be available for private and commercial service shortly thereafter.
Helijet’s decision to become BETA’s first commercial customer order from Canada is due in part to BETA’s intention to certify the aircraft for IFR (instrument flight rules) operations, and its interest to consider growing its industrial base in Canada. BETA has already begun to grow its presence across the country with an R&D facility based out of the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
“We are proud to partner with BETA Technologies, who are leaders in the advanced air mobility space,” said Helijet CEO Sitnam. “We are committed to introducing and integrating zero-emission, vertical lift technologies and related ground/building infrastructure in the communities we serve and look forward to transforming our current heliport infrastructure to meet future urban air mobility vertiport standards.”
Premier Eby noted the Province of B.C. is committed to embracing and supporting sustainable aviation technology, as well as related infrastructure development opportunities within the province.
“This provincial government recognizes the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonize the aviation sector, improve regional connectivity, improve emergency response times and introduce new manufacturing opportunities in our province,” said Premier Eby. “We congratulate Helijet on their exciting news and look forward to British Columbia becoming a leader in the advanced air mobility sector.”
The purchase of BETA eVTOL aircraft is just the latest demonstration of Helijet’s commitment to advanced air mobility. In 2019, Helijet became a founding member of Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM), the national organization for AAM in Canada. CAAM has created a 100+ member ecosystem comprised of industry, academia, capital and government members both nationally and internationally.
Key stakeholders of CAAM include the National Research Council of Canada, Air Canada Cargo, CAE, Iskwew Airlines, InDro Robotics, University of British Columbia, TransLink, BC Aviation Council, University of Victoria, BC Ministry of Transportation, TELUS, Transport Canada, Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, and Aerial Evolution Association of Canada.
“Helijet’s purchase of BETA Technologies’ revolutionary Alia aircraft is an aviation milestone for advanced air mobility in B.C. and Canada,” said CAAM Executive Director JR Hammond. “CAAM’s mission is to build an ecosystem of national collaboration in AAM and create a sustainable, equitable and profitable AAM industry in Canada. With its mature air travel market demographic and existing challenges for conventional transportation between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, southern B.C. provides an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability and environmental sustainability of AAM in B.C. and Canada.”
BETA’s selection as the first provider of eVTOL aircraft to a Canadian air services operator marks another milestone for the Vermont-based company. BETA has conducted qualitative evaluation flights with the FAA, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army, completed multiple thousand-mile-plus missions across the U.S., utilizing its own charging infrastructure, and recently opened its 188,500 sq. ft production and assembly facility, the first full-scale manufacturing facility for electric aircraft in the United States. Earlier this fall, the electric aerospace company also flew one of its prototype aircraft across the border into Montreal, marking the first time a battery electric aircraft has landed in the city.
“We designed ALIA to be a reliable, efficient, and sustainable aircraft option that could carry out a variety of missions in all types of geographies, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Helijet to bring this nextgeneration, net-zero technology to Canadian commuters and travelers,” said Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO. “Between our growing engineering hub in Montreal, our first cross-border flight to the region earlier this year, and the support we’ve received from the government and regulators across Canada, we look forward to continuing to grow our presence in the country. To be able to do that in partnership with the foremost operator in British Columbia is very exciting.”
Over the past two years, Helijet has followed and shortlisted three aircraft manufacturers designing and developing eVTOL aircraft for AAM ecosystems. In addition to BETA’s ALIA eVTOL, which meets Helijet’s future objectives for introducing sustainable, decarbonized aviation technologies in Canada, Helijet will continue to consider other shortlisted aircraft make and models for order. Helijet is also leading the development of Canada’s first commercial vertiport at its downtown Vancouver waterfront heliport, which would connect AAM users to an intermodal transportation hub providing road, marine, air and rail access throughout the region.
To date, over $6 billion worldwide has been invested in advanced aviation technologies, with investment leadership coming from companies such as BETA, Boeing, Embraer, Airbus, Honda, Joby Aviation and Lilium. According to NEXA Advisors/UAM Geomatics, a leader in world-wide AAM market studies, over the next 15 to 20 years, Greater Vancouver has the potential to serve approximately 4.2 million passengers using eVTOL aircraft and generate $2.1 billion in new AAM business activity.
Helijet International is a privately held Canadian-owned company based at the Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia, Canada, and is recognized as North America’s largest helicopter airline, carrying well over 2.4 million guests in the past 35 years. In addition to its scheduled helicopter services, Helijet is the Province of British Columbia’s longest standing and largest air service provider of dedicated medically equipped helicopters.
Helijet provides exclusive-use helicopter and fixed-wing services to world-renowned sport fishing resorts, public service and energy companies throughout the west coast of British Columbia and North America. Helijet’s wholly owned subsidiary, Pacific Heliport Services, Ltd., is Canada’s largest privately managed Heliport operator, overseeing Transport Canada-certified heliports in downtown Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo. Helijet has been recognized by communities and aviation associations alike as a socially responsible and forward-thinking air operator that deeply engages with the communities it serves. For more information, visit https://helijet.com/scheduled-airline/
About BETA Technologies:
Founded in 2017, Burlington, Vermont-based BETA Technologies is building a fully integrated electric aviation system to enable more sustainable modes of transportation. BETA’s fleet of electric aircraft, which are undergoing certification with the FAA, include the ALIA CTOL an electric fixed-wing airplane, and the ALIA VTOL, an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Both vehicles generate zero operational emissions, have designs that optimize for payload and range, and can be recharged in under an hour with its chargers. BETA is also creating a nation-wide multimodal electric charging network. The company has already activated 12 aircraft charging stations from Vermont to Arkansas—and has 58 more sites in the permitting or construction phase along the East and Gulf Coasts.
BETA has orders from customers including UPS, Air New Zealand, BLADE, and United Therapeutics, as well as contracts with the U.S. Army and Air Force. In March, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden visited BETA to learn about the types of clean energy and manufacturing jobs the company is creating as it turns the corner into production.
… notes from SP