BlackBird, an on-demand flight service that’s been called “Uber for planes,” is partnering with Bye Aerospace to add more than 100 electric airplanes to its platform. The companies say that the partnership will make flying cheaper more affordable than driving for trips up to 300 miles.
Bye Aerospace announced that BlackBird has agreed to purchase its first 100 commercial 4-seat eFlyer 4 electric planes. BlackBird will also purchase 10 of Bye’s eFlyer 2 planes — Norway’s OSM Aviation ordered 60 of those planes last month.
The eFlyer 4 is being billed as “the world’s first practical four-seat, electric-powered plane.” It will be certified with the FAA after eFlyer 2 gains certification, a process that has already begun. Bye Aerospace says of the eFlyer 4:
The energy cost for the electric eFlyer 4 is four times less expensive than driving a conventional car per mile, three times faster, and requires no aviation fuel, resulting in zero emissions and significantly lower noise pollution compared to conventional aircraft. The affordability aspect alone helps answer high overhead and drives replacement of today’s outdated legacy general aviation aircraft fleets.
The idea is that flights on electric planes can be less expensive than what’s currently offered — and far less expensive than a trip by gas-powered car. According to the video below, the 4 seater will retail at $349,000 (vs. 2 seater trainer’s $249,00 price).
BlackBird notes how the lower costs of operating the electric planes will have an effect on customers’ wallets in a Medium post:
These planes are 75% less expensive and 5–10 times faster than driving a car. What’s that mean for you? Think about a place you love that’s five hours away by car, likely costing more than $100 in gas each way. As soon as next year, that same place will be 45min and $25 away with BlackBird.
Looking at the BlackBird app currently, prices vary greatly based on locations and dates. The most reasonably priced flights generally operate out of a number of California airports, in addition to Las Vegas, at least for now. But the service also appears to be growing on the East Coast, where BlackBird is offering flight bundles in the New York City area.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer 4 may be FAA certified by Q4 2020. At that point, the planes will be able to start carrying passengers through BlackBird.
Along with Harbour Air’s planned all-electric seaplane fleet in the Pacific Northwest, BlackBird’s partnership with Bye Aerospace looks to be one of the first ventures that will get a fair amount of passengers into electric planes.
If all goes according to plan, those passengers will be saving time and money, and cutting travel emissions as soon as next year. So if you don’t mind flying in a small plane — they’re certainly not for everyone — the benefits are obvious. The mall planes also fly between more non-commercial airports, for better or worse and the range isn’t yet known.
There are others in the space as well, like Lilium, which is currently testing its all-electric five-seater air taxi. As carmakers race to gain a hold of the electric car market on the ground, other companies are vying for a prime position in the skies.
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