A Sikorsky subsidiary, Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), agreed to provide and operate a dedicated S-76C+™ helicopter to be used for a business called Fly Blade Inc. as an " on-demand urban mobility option in the New York City metro area." The agreement, specific terms of which were not revealed, also establishes a working group to explore how AAG can "leverage" Blade's consumer, cockpit and operator technology platform.
"Manhattan already is the largest short-distance aviation market in the world. The influx of record new construction coupled with unprecedented ground traffic will only serve to heighten the value proposition of helicopter travel," said Rob Wiesenthal, Blade's CEO. "By combining Sikorsky's decades of vertical flight expertise and AAG's thousands of flight hours with Blade's technology, dedicated lounge infrastructure, and customer experience, we have created a fully integrated urban air-mobility platform in the market where it is needed and valued the most."
AAG is an executive helicopter service offering private charter, fractional ownership, aircraft management, and maintenance in the Northeast U.S.
Blade is a coordinator of helicopter flights for civilian travel in the United States. It has 22 routes in seven states, with a digital booking system accessible through a mobile app, and 10 "lounges" from which it offers short-distance aerial transport.
Both businesses operate with the Sikorsky S-76C as the core aircraft. Blade uses Sikorsky S-76 aircraft for several northeast U.S. routes, flying from Manhattan to area airports, Boston, Washington, D.C., and other business and leisure destinations in the northeast.
The Sikorsky S-76 is a medium-sized commercial utility helicopter with twin turboshaft engines, four-bladed main and tail rotors, and a retractable landing gear. Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin company, has been producing the series since 1977, the current models being designated S-76C+ and S-76C++, with more powerful engines and higher payloads.
The need for fast, point-to-point transport in dense urban setting has prompted several new aircraft technologies by Boeing, Lockheed, and others, including unmanned aircraft and hybrid-powered aircraft.
"As a leader in vertical flight, Sikorsky is always looking to explore new market opportunities," stated Sikorsky vice president Audrey Brady. "Vertical lift becomes increasingly important as cities grow, and this relationship allows us to gain critical insights to emerging needs in that space."