Texas-Based Vertical Flight Expert Is Betting on eVTOLs and SAF

Bristow is working with seven eVTOL companies, including Vertical Aerospace 7 photos
Photo: Bristow
Bristow Will Operate eVTOLs and SAF-powered Helicopters
Conventional helicopters and eVTOLs (electric vertical take-off and landing) will work side by side soon, at least for a while. With AAM (Advanced Air Mobility) at an early stage, eVTOLs can't fully take over the tasks of traditional rotorcraft. Still, many players in the vertical flight sector are gradually adding this new type of aircraft to their fleet, in addition to other sustainability-related measures.
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, but present on six continents, Bristow claims to be one of the top vertical flight operators with a focus on sustainable solutions. The company's current fleet of more than 200 aircraft includes rotary wing models, fixed wings, and UAS (unmanned aircraft systems).

The Bristow helicopters' primary duty is to transport personnel safely and efficiently from onshore bases to offshore energy installations. The Government Services branch focuses more on search-and-rescue (SAR) operations in the Falkland Islands and the Dutch Caribbean region.

Environmentally, the Texan operator's main goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through various means. In 2022, it started using SAF (sustainable aviation fuel) as a 10% blend for certain offshore operations in the UK, adding three new AAM partnerships. Bristow has seven partnerships with the eVTOL sector, including pre-orders from Vertical Aerospace and Beta Technologies.

Two years ago, Bristow hit a milestone in the offshore energy industry with one of the first SAF-powered flights in the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS). That pioneering flight was carried out by an S92 helicopter, traveling from Aberdeen (Scotland, UK) to the offshore installations operated by bp. In mid-2022, Bristow and bp took things to the next level by initiating regular flights powered by a SAF blend.

Since then, all the flights from Aberdeen Airport to bp's North Sea offshore installations have been powered by a 10% SAF blend, with bp being the first operator in the North Sea to commit to this significant change.

While SAF will help reduce the environmental footprint of conventional helicopters, Bristow also intends to start operating electric air taxis as soon as possible. It has now placed non-binding orders for up to 455 eVTOLs from various manufacturers.

Last year, it also set up a dedicated AAM team working closely with its seven AAM partners – Beta Technologies, Elroy Air, Eve Air Mobility, Overair, Lilium, Vertical Aerospace, and Plus, Bristow is a member of the US Texas Urban Air Mobility Advisory Committee and the eVTOL Safety Leadership Group in the UK (established by the UK Civil Aviation Authority).

SAF and eVTOLs are the key elements in Bristow's sustainability strategy. Still, the company is also implementing other measures for fuel efficiency, including optimized flight routes, reducing maintenance ground runs as much as possible, and using simulation technology for flight training instead of physical aircraft.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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