The VFS used to be known as the American Helicopter Society. Today’s vertical flight landscape is much too diverse to be limited to choppers, which is what prompted the name change, back in 2014.
There are so many VTOL designs today, either fully-electric or hybrid, each claiming to boast revolutionary features and capabilities. But what they all have in common is the goal of zero-emission operations.
Compared to that, helicopters were slammed over the past few years for their CO2 emissions. Plus, they are too noisy and costly, although they obviously have some good parts too (such as resilience and ruggedness).
Swiss Helicopters has already made the official transition to carbon-neutral flights, and it’s the first one in the country to have done so. That’s a result of using carbon credits and switching from conventional fuel to SAF (sustainable aviation fuel).
It recently added one more element to its green strategy. Three tilt-wing eVTOLs from Dufour Aerospace will be giving a fresh boost to the operator’s all-helicopter fleet. It’s a milestone for Dufour as well.
The eVTOL developer can now officially state that it has conquered the helicopter operations sector in Switzerland. Basically, all the major civil helicopter operators in the country have now committed to purchasing these electric alternatives.
First, there was the Aero2. It was officially unveiled in 2021 and dubbed “the Swiss Army Knife of small unmanned aircraft.” That was because it claimed to be highly versatile, in terms of design and performance.
This Swiss eVTOL with tilt-wing design was said to provide the benefits of a rotorcraft (particularly the ability to take off and land even in areas with limited space available) with the higher performance and lower costs of airplanes.
The Aero3 was based on the same design, but with increased performance. Thanks to hybrid-electric propulsion, it can cover 630 miles (1,020 km) at 215 mph (350 kph), which is far better than what all-electric VTOLs can promise. And it does so while carrying a considerable cargo of 1,650 pounds (750 kg).
The only downside is that, for now, the Aero3 combines its electrically-driven propellers with conventional turbines, which means that it’s not emission-free. However, Dufour is working on replacing those with a hydrogen fuel cell system in the near future.