Fly Blade Inc. and Bristow U.S. LLC are partnering for a new cabin service in the greater New York area, Bristow said.
Blade, a flight arranger, offers a cell phone application that allows users to book helicopter flights in the New York City area. Blade also has a series of lounges for its own on-the-ground experience. But the company does not operate any helicopters. In this new agreement, Bristow is providing the aircraft, crew and maintenance while Blade is responsible for the other items, including marketing and scheduling. Bristow said, though, that it “is also exploring opportunities to leverage Blade's crowdsourcing technologies to enhance operating efficiencies in the company's core operations.”
Bristow's parent company, Bristow Group, said this month that it planned to reorganize its business structure to focus on the offshore industry's demands amid a downturn.
Blade’s new service is branded as “Ultra.” Using a Bristow Sikorsky S-76C++, Blade customers would have access to more luggage and cabin space than any other helicopter currently in its accessible fleet, Blade said.
“Bristow remains a proven leader for aviation services to our offshore clients. We are excited to fly with Blade to operate safe and fast helicopter service to passengers traveling between numerous Northeast locations, including all area airports,” said Samantha Willenbacher, Bristow's global director for commercial strategy. “Bristow has a long history of providing safe and reliable helicopter transportation services around the world, including as the official helicopter operator on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard in the U.K., and we are proud to introduce our helicopter service to the New York market.”
Bristow would provide an S-76C++ powered by twin Turbomecca (Safran) Arriel 2S2 turbine engines. This gives the helicopter a cruise speed of 160 mph. The aircraft would feature leather seating and accommodate up to eight passengers per fleet. The S-76C++ was introduced in 2006, Lockheed Martin said, replacing the A, A+, A++, B and C.
Blade is offering two Ultra options: Ultra I, which is available now; and Ultra II, which is planned for later this year. Ultra I features the S-76C++ in an eight-passenger configuration, with its baggage compartment holding between six and eight gold bags. Ultra II would feature a six-seat executive configuration, including two captain’s chairs. Blade said Ultra II is aimed for customers taking longer flights with smaller groups. All Ultra services give customers access to Blades Manhattan lounges.
“We see a tremendous opportunity with Bristow to offer high-end on-demand helicopter service within the greater New York area,” said Rob Wiesenthal, founder and CEO of Blade. “We look forward to providing the same unique experience that many New Yorkers have come to enjoy with Blade, while flying the best cabin class helicopters in the industry today.”
Customers interested in charter, crowdsourced and scheduled rides have access to Ultra. It is also available to destinations outside the New York City area, including Nantucket, Boston and Washington, D.C.