Helijet International is planning to become the first Canadian air carrier to provide passenger and cargo services using eVTOL aircraft after placing firm orders for ALIA eVTOL aircraft from BETA Technologies.
The announcement was made at Helijet’s Victoria Harbour Heliport by President and CEO Danny Sitnam and BETA Sales Director Skye Carapetyan, alongside British Columbia Premier David Eby.
Helijet will integrate the BETA-designed aircraft into its existing network of helicopter services, providing quieter, lower cost, sustainable air transportation for travelers in southwestern B.C. and the Pacific Northwest. According to Helijet, the electric aircraft’s vertical take-off and landing capability will also have tremendous potential to enhance its provision of emergency response, air ambulance and organ transfer services in the Lower Mainland, as well as support rural and remote communities that do not have access to affordable and convenient air services.
Built by electric aerospace company BETA Technologies, the five-passenger and pilot configured ALIA eVTOL is currently in advanced flight standards development towards commercial regulatory certification in 2026 and will be available for private and commercial service shortly thereafter.
Helijet’s decision to become BETA’s first commercial customer order from Canada is due in part to BETA’s intention to certify the aircraft for IFR (instrument flight rules) operations, and its interest to consider growing its industrial base in Canada. BETA has already begun to grow its presence across the country with an R&D facility based out of the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
“We are proud to partner with BETA Technologies, who are leaders in the advanced air mobility space,” said Sitnam. “We are committed to introducing and integrating zero-emission, vertical lift technologies and related ground/building infrastructure in the communities we serve and look forward to transforming our current heliport infrastructure to meet future urban air mobility vertiport standards.”
“This provincial government recognizes the potential of advanced air mobility to decarbonize the aviation sector, improve regional connectivity, improve emergency response times and introduce new manufacturing opportunities in our province,” said Premier Eby. “We congratulate Helijet on their exciting news and look forward to British Columbia becoming a leader in the advanced air mobility sector.”
According to Helijet, the purchase of BETA’s eVTOL aircraft is just the latest demonstration of its commitment to advanced air mobility. In 2019, Helijet became a founding member of Canadian Advanced Air Mobility (CAAM), the national organization for AAM in Canada. CAAM has created a 100+ member ecosystem comprised of industry, academia, capital and government members both nationally and internationally.
“Helijet’s purchase of BETA Technologies’ revolutionary Alia aircraft is an aviation milestone for advanced air mobility in B.C. and Canada,” said CAAM Executive Director JR Hammond. “CAAM’s mission is to build an ecosystem of national collaboration in AAM and create a sustainable, equitable and profitable AAM industry in Canada. With its mature air travel market demographic and existing challenges for conventional transportation between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, southern B.C. provides an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the commercial viability and environmental sustainability of AAM in B.C. and Canada.”
BETA’s selection as the first provider of eVTOL aircraft to a Canadian air services operator marks another milestone for the Vermont-based company. BETA has conducted qualitative evaluation flights with the FAA, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Army, completed multiple thousand-mile-plus missions across the U.S., utilizing its own charging infrastructure, and recently opened its 188,500 sq. ft production and assembly facility, the first full-scale manufacturing facility for electric aircraft in the United States. Earlier this fall, the electric aerospace company also flew one of its prototype aircraft across the border into Montreal, marking the first time a battery electric aircraft has landed in the city.
“We designed ALIA to be a reliable, efficient, and sustainable aircraft option that could carry out a variety of missions in all types of geographies, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Helijet to bring this next-generation, net-zero technology to Canadian commuters and travelers,” added Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO. “Between our growing engineering hub in Montreal, our first cross-border flight to the region earlier this year, and the support we’ve received from the government and regulators across Canada, we look forward to continuing to grow our presence in the country. To be able to do that in partnership with the foremost operator in British Columbia is very exciting.”
Over the past two years, Helijet has followed and shortlisted three aircraft manufacturers designing and developing eVTOL aircraft for AAM ecosystems. In addition to BETA’s ALIA eVTOL, which meets Helijet’s future objectives for introducing sustainable, decarbonized aviation technologies in Canada, Helijet will continue to consider other shortlisted aircraft make and models for order. Helijet is also leading the development of Canada’s first commercial vertiport at its downtown Vancouver waterfront heliport, which would connect AAM users to an intermodal transportation hub providing road, marine, air and rail access throughout the region.