LONDON – On 13 July, Bristow Group, one of the world’s leading helicopter groups is now venturing further into the eVTOL market. This comes after Bristow signed a Letter of Intent with Elroy Air for 100 Chaparral hybrid-electric cargo eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft.
Bristow Group is making a bold move to venture into this discipline as most VTOLs are strong alternative contenders to the traditional helicopters. Chaparral is one of the world’s first VTOL aircraft dedicated to enhancing cargo mobility.
Bristow sees this as an opportunity and does not want to miss the ‘VTOL bandwagon’ and plans to utilise the Chaparral to provide a service in the scope of logistics, healthcare and the energy sector. The eVTOL as the name suggests is powered by a hybrid-electric energy pack, which will also assist the company to become carbon neutral in due course.
Dave Stepanek, Bristow Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer stated:
“Leveraging our expertise as both a helicopter and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operator, we plan to use the Elroy Air Chaparral aircraft to fill an increasing demand for the movement of time-sensitive cargo for logistics, health care and energy applications.”
“Bristow has 70+ years of experience moving people and cargo. We expect to leverage that experience to usher in a new era of vertical lift operations and meet the express shipping cargo needs in cities and regions without relying on existing or new airport infrastructure.”
Chaparral, being a logistics-oriented VTOL manufacturer, aims to transport 300-500 pounds or 1376 to 226 kilograms respectively. The VTOL will have the performance to fly over a 300-mile range or 482 kilometres with its ultra clean and efficient hybrid-electric power train.
Cargoes or supplies will be strapped into an underslung pod attached to the fuselage and can be picked up and dropped within a 50-foot landing square accuracy, and it is done so unmanned. The Chaparral can land or take off anywhere with autonomous control and operates in strict compliance with regulators and civil aviation authorities.
Kofi Asante Elroy Air’s VP of Business Development and Strategy.”The response and excitement around the Chaparral and the problems it can address have been amazing over these last few months since we unveiled the aircraft.”
“The Chaparral was built for the challenges we’re facing today. Demand for rapid logistics is outpacing today’s infrastructure. The Chaparral creates a ‘fast-lane’ for middle-mile logistics to an unprecedented range of locations that can serve remote, rural areas and can fly over rough terrain. We’re proud to work with the global leader in vertical flight solutions to create the future of express logistics.”
Currently, Elroy Air has been proven very popular as they have inked agreements to supply as many as 900 aircraft for commercial, humanitarian and defence operators.
Bristow Group has been making headlines lately, as they are also gearing up to become the world’s first tiltrotor operator the Leonardo AW609.
To date, Elroy Air has secured agreements to supply 900 aircraft to commercial, defence and humanitarian customers. The LOI is expected to be replaced with a separate purchase agreement.
The Chaparral features distributed electric propulsion, with eight vertical lift rotors, four forward propellers for cruise flight, a high-wing airframe configuration, as well as automated ground autonomy and cargo-handling systems. Its airframe is fabricated using carbon composite materials.