The Uber of Helicopters is Going Electric – The Average Joe

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    The Uber of Helicopters is Going Electric

    victorlei

    December 12, 2023

    Tired of traffic on your way to the airport? Imagine this: whip out your phone, summon a helicopter from downtown, and save 75 minutes for just $195 on BLADE (NASDAQ:BLDE).

    The “urban mobility” company has grown into one of the world’s largest air taxi operators by whisking wealthy clientele around New York. However, $195 flights are a luxury not everyone can afford. To make this mode of transportation accessible to the masses, the price will have to fall.

    The EV that’s flying under the radar: BLADE is venturing into electric vehicle takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOLs) built by companies like BETA Technologies — which completed its first passenger test flight earlier this year.

    • BETA claims its ALIA-250 eVTOL costs just $17 to charge, compared to $700 for a similar-sized conventional aircraft — and is only one-tenth as loud as traditional helicopters.
    • BLADE expects eVTOLs to reduce the cost of its most popular Manhattan/JFK route by 14% — but ARK Invest analyst Sam Korus projects it could be half the price it is today (~$70 per customer).

    eVTOLs could revolutionize BLADE’s services, making them cheaper, quieter and greener — a crucial move in electrifying the aviation industry responsible for 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2022.

    Taking travel to new heights

    NYC announced plans to electrify two of Manhattan’s three heliports to prepare for the new wave of “sustainable transportation,” — which will include BLADE and new competitors like Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY):

    • Joby will begin service with its own proprietary eVTOL starting in 2025 — offering flights from home to airport in NYC and LA as part of a partnership with investor Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL).
    • The company is also preparing to launch in Japan, with major players like Japan’s largest airline, ANA Holdings, and real estate giant Nomura as partners.

    Getting the green light: The Federal Aviation Administration is ready to certify eVTOLs for passenger use, releasing a plan to roll out electric taxis “at scale” by 2028 — but none are expected to complete flight testing and enter service until after 2024.

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