VICTORIA — Vancouver-based Helijet International has placed what it says is Canada's first order for an electric vertical-takeoff aircraft to add to its current fleet of passenger and cargo helicopters.
Helijet president Danny Sitnam said Tuesday that the ALIA aircraft built by Vermont-based BETA Technologies would allow quicker, quieter and more efficient landings and takeoffs from hospitals and other emergency zones.
The ALIA is an eVTOL aircraft, standing for electric vertical takeoff and landing, and Sitnam said those capabilities offer benefits for emergency response, air ambulance and organ transfer services in British Columbia.
Sitnam said the zero-emission aircraft, which is currently undergoing regulatory tests, would carry five passengers and a pilot.
The ALIA has wings, four drone-like horizontal rotors that allow it to take off like a helicopter, and a propeller at the back for thrust.
B.C. Premier David Eby, who attended an announcement about the order in Victoria, said it represented an innovative response to the challenges of climate change.
Helijet was "reducing pollution, showing the way forward and doing it in a way that is cost effective," Eby said.
Helijet said in a statement the ALIA would be available for private and commercial flights in 2026.
BETA Technologies said it also has orders from UPS and Air New Zealand, and contracts with the U.S. military.
It has a research and development facility at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 31, 2023.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press