LIFT Aircraft™ has announced announce that it has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) with the owners of Charm, one of the largest helicopter tour operators on the US East Coast, to offer sight seeing tours around New York from as early as 2023. Under the terms of the agreement, LIFT and Charm will establish a joint venture that will have exclusive license from LIFT to operate in the greater NYC area. The parties have agreed to a pre-order for 100 HEXA eVTOL aircraft that they intend to deploy to multiple LIFT vertiport locations they will jointly develop in the greater NYC area over the next five years.
According to the company:
“LIFT is launching a new concept in personal aviation – anyone will be able to learn to fly its semi-autonomous eVTOL aircraft in less than an hour, and then solo pilot the single seat, ultralight vehicle – no pilot’s license required. Under FAA rules, flights are limited to uncongested flyover areas and uncontrolled airspace – so plans are in the works to develop LIFT vertiports along New York City’s many waterfront areas that provide access to the “Class G”, Visual Flight Rules (VFR) corridor that extends up to 1,300 feet around Manhattan. Unlike most eVTOL aircraft in development today, HEXA is already approved to fly under the FAA’s Part 103 rules, and no pilot’s license is required to fly for personal, non-commercial use.”
“New York is one of the largest markets for helicopter tour and air taxi operations in the world, and we expect the region will be one of the biggest markets for next generation, urban air mobility as well. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the owners of one of the largest helicopter operators in New York to bring LIFT to the region,” said Matt Chasen, CEO of Austin based LIFT Aircraft.
According to a company press release, Charm Aviation operates one of the largest helicopter fleets on the East Coast, with operations in New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore. The ownership group has a combined 40 years of experience operating helicopter fleets and has experience operating heliports in Manhattan. Public agencies like police and fire departments can also use HEXA to reduce first response time by as much as 50%. HEXA has already received its initial airworthiness certification by the USAF, and is expected to be used by the military as a new manned and unmanned aerial platform.
“Our top-selling helicopter tour flights last between 12 to15 minutes, so HEXA’s flight time is a perfect fit for self-piloted, recreational flights” says Caitlyn Ephraim, President of Charm Aviation. “These are like Segway tours, but in the air – with a much better view and much more fun. These small, electric aircraft are “geo-fenced,” to keep them confined to pre-defined flight areas and corridors, have zero direct emissions, and are much quieter than helicopters, so will help to reduce the noise footprint of the fleets of helicopters we operate today. I can’t wait to fly HEXA around the Statue of Liberty. We think this is the future of the helicopter tour market.”
LIFT and the Charm group plan to work with city officials, as well as the FAA, as they select the first NY vertiport site in the coming months, and hope to have initial trial flights in the city starting by the end of 2023. LIFT has already received FAA approval for a location planned in the Austin, TX area, where it is based.
The announcement comes just days after LIFT announced a utility patent application titled “Aircraft with Distributed Power System, Distributed Control System, and Safe Deployment Mechanism for Ballistic Recovery System” has been approved for issuance by the USPTO after almost three years in review. Key elements of the intellectual property covered under this patent include:
- A distributed battery pack system
- A radially distributed float system with central float beneath the pilot
- A ballistic parachute deployment system
- A flight control system blending autonomous functions with manual pilot inputs
- A flight control system with a geo-caged flight area with autonomous takeoff and landing, collision avoidance, and emergency landings in predefined safe zones
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