LIFT Aircraft, developer of a personal electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle based in Austin, announced on Friday that they’ve signed a Letter of Intent with Charm Aviation to bring flight tours to customers in New York City as early as next year. Charm Aviation is one of the largest helicopter operators on the east coast, with a number of operations already running in New York City.
LIFT’s goal with this LOI is to put their concept of “personal aviation” to practice – to provide a service where anyone will be able to learn to fly their semi-autonomous eVTOL aircraft in less than an hour, and then solo pilot the single seat, ultralight vehicle, without needing a pilot’s license.
LIFT’s unique design allows for flights in uncongested areas and uncontrolled airspace in accordance with FAA regulations. Accoridngly, LIFT and Charm will need to make investments in new vertiports along the Hudson and East rivers in NYC or invest in existing spaces for operation bases for these flights. Further, their altitudes will be limited to 1,300′ AGL and within the uncontrolled Class G airspace in New York to deconflict from other traffic.
HEXA is approved to fly under the FAA’s Part 103 rules, and no pilot’s license is required to fly for personal, non-commercial use.
Charm Aviation operates one of the largest helicopter fleets on the East Coast, with operations in New York, New Jersey, and Baltimore. The ownership group has a combined 40 years of experience operating helicopter fleets and has experience operating heliports in Manhattan.
Under the terms of the agreement, LIFT and Charm will establish a joint venture that will have exclusive license from LIFT to operate in the greater NYC area. The parties have agreed to a pre-order for 100 HEXA eVTOL aircraft that they intend to deploy to multiple LIFT vertiport locations they will jointly develop in the greater NYC area over the next five years.
Why it’s important: This LOI represents the deployment of one of the first personal aerial vehicles to a congested, multi-modal transportation center on the east coast. LIFT and the Charm will have considerable integration work to tackle with New York city officials in addition to the FAA to select the first vertiport site and begin flight trials next year. Demand for such flights will likely be high following approval, so it’s crucial that discussions between NYC officials, New York air traffic management, and Charm, the operator, are in alignment to present a coordinated rollout of this exciting offering. Further, constraints on locations approved for the HEXA aircraft are planned to be implemented via geo-fencing to ensure safety and dedicated operational airspace for this effort.
Read the full press release here.