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Flying Green

Flying Green

Technology Sector Clean Tech and Environmental Technology Transportation

Helijet orders a groundbreaking electric aircraft.

Helijet may soon be the first Canadian carrier to offer commercial flights using electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. Last October, the company announced that it had placed an order with Vermont-based Beta Technologies for four of the aerospace manufacturer Alia’s eVTOL aircraft. Douglas previously reported on North America’s first electric seaplane, commissioned by Harbour Air, and Canada’s first electric tugboats, to ply the waters off Kitimat. Helijet’s new aircraft makes it a trifecta of innovation for Vancouver Island. 

The sleek Alia models run on batteries and can carry five passengers and one pilot. With four sets of horizontal rotor blades, they take off and land vertically. Wings provide forward airspeed and lift capacity.

Helijet’s president and CEO Daniel Sitnam says this type of aircraft generally makes less noise than standard helicopters — important to the company because it operates primarily in urban environments.

Beta is still studying Alia’s operating costs, but Sitnam says he expects eVTOLs will be less expensive to fly than other aircraft in Helijet’s fleet. If that proves true, Helijet wants to use them to expand its reach, servicing communities that would have been too costly otherwise, and offer flights at lower price points to broaden its customer base.

Sitnam says the whole aviation industry needs to improve its sustainability efforts. He hopes that adding Alia aircraft to Helijet’s fleet will not only reduce the company’s carbon footprint, but also encourage other Canadian air carriers to do the same.

Beta expects to complete the Alia aircraft by 2026, and Helijet wants to get them up in the air shortly after.

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