Overair has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bristow Group, which includes an pre-order for 20 to 50 of Overair’s Butterfly eVTOL aircraft.

Both companies will now work together to develop an operations development framework focusing on vehicle design considerations, key performance parameters, FAA certification and flight planning best practices.

Other areas of focus will include data sharing for improvement of flight operations, connected vehicle and health monitoring strategies, configuration and maintenance protocols, infrastructure, ground support operations, connected fleet management and government affairs and promotion of eVTOL operations.

Ben Tigner, Chief Executive Officer of Overair, said: “Bristow’s decades of vertical lift experience will greatly enhance Butterfly’s path to commercialisation. Their operating insight, combined with our development and execution of the Butterfly program, will position Butterfly to serve Bristow as a valuable workhorse on high-density routes. We’re elated to learn from Bristow’s practical expertise and ultimately deliver an aircraft optimised for their use cases.”

Bristow, one of the world’s largest and most experienced helicopter operators, plans to use the unique attributes of these eVTOL aircraft to help reduce its carbon footprint.

The company understands the benefits of a varied fleet and intends to diversify its existing operations with Butterfly and other eVTOLs for commercial air taxi routes in metropolitan areas. Notably, of the vehicles Bristow is currently considering, Butterfly is the only aircraft with a vectored thrust configuration.

Chris Bradshaw, Bristow’s president and CEO, said: “Our MOU with Overair allows us to advance our leadership position in the vertical transportation market that we’ve built over the past 70 years and will now set the stage for the next generation of vertical flight. Our collaboration facilitates expansion into new high-density geographic markets with sustainable, innovative and efficient vertical lift and aerial transport services.

“As the global leader in vertical lift, Bristow’s operational expertise and efficiency, supported by the trust and confidence of our customers, can safely bring eVTOL aircraft into the market.”

Bristow expects to optimise its fleet management strategy by matching eVTOL attributes with the most economically productive mission profiles. Butterfly’s low-noise profile, payload capacity and ability to fly in a broad range of weather conditions will be well-suited for high-density, noise-sensitive routes in geographies with varied environmental concerns.

Overair says Butterfly is designed to be the most robust, efficient, and quiet aircraft in its class – producing zero emissions when in flight. It plans to be piloted and capable of carrying five passengers with cargo more than 100 miles, at a top speed of 200 mph in all-weather conditions

Butterfly’s unique capability stems from its breakthrough propulsion system, known as Optimum Speed Propulsion (OSP). Butterfly’s four large propellers spin slowly in hover and even slower cruise, resulting in two primary aerodynamic advantages.