LCI, a large and highly established aircraft leasing company, has placed an order for 50 of Beta Technologies’ all-electric ‘Alia’ eVTOL aircraft, with options to purchase up to 125 aircraft in total.
LCI is a major aircraft leasing company that offers helicopters and airliners to commercial aircraft operators. As a subsidiary of Libra Group, clients of LCI include British Airways, Air France, Singapore Airlines, and leading helicopter operators such as Babcock. The company was founded in 2004, initially only working with fixed wing aircraft, but made its first helicopter purchase in 2012 with a $400 million order from Leonardo. While the company has already taken over US$8 billion in transactions of fixed-wing and helicopter markets, the order of Beta Technologies Alia aircraft will be LCI’s first electric aircraft purchase.
Unlike traditional helicopters, Beta’s ‘Alia’ aircraft features a fixed wing and pusher propellor for forward flight, giving it the efficiency of an airplane combined with the vertical take-off and landing abilities of a helicopter. This efficient design allows the aircraft to travel up to 250 miles on a single all-electric charge, while having room for up to four passengers or 1400 lbs of cargo.
Other air transport stakeholders have also shown interest in the Alia, with Blade Urban Air Mobility placing an order for 20 aircraft, UPS placing an order for up to 150 aircraft, and United Therapeutics partnering with Beta for transplant organ transportation.
Said Jaspal Jandu, CEO of LCI: “We are embracing this new era of sustainable flight and BETA Technologies’ innovative approach makes them a natural and credible partner for LCI. We believe that the aircraft’s blend of rechargeable battery power, significant internal capacity, and plentiful range is an optimal one. We are confident it will be a popular choice for operators and end-users seeking to develop and augment their fleets with this truly sustainable technology.”
Kyle Clark, founder and CEO of Beta Technologies, commented: “As a leading aircraft lessor with an established global track record, LCI has a strong pulse on what operators are looking for. We are gratified by their confidence that the solutions we’re building will answer the need for next generation, zero-emission electric aircraft. We are excited to partner with LCI and push adoption of this solution forward within the industry.”
Why it’s important: As one of the largest aircraft leasing companies in the world, LCI has signaled its belief that the eVTOL could soon augment or even replace segments of traditional helicopter business. This purchase from such a large financial stakeholder in helicopter aviation indicates that LCI believes that there are very real and lucrative use cases for eVTOL, and that companies who invest early in eVTOL will be much better positioned for the future of aviation services.
Source // LCI, Helicopter Investor, Aero Mag