Pivotal, the Palo Alto, California–based company backed by Larry Page, kicked off online sales Monday night at CES 2024 for Helix, a lightweight electric personal aircraft that doesn’t require a pilot’s license to fly.
Helix marks an evolution for Pivotal, a company previously known as Opener that has been working on lightweight electric vertical and takeoff aircraft for more than a decade. The company first gained attention for BlackFly, a personal single-seat aircraft with tilt-aircraft architecture that was delivered to the first customer in June 2023. The Helix, revealed in October, reflects the maturity of the company’s tech and is the first one designed to be produced in larger volumes.
Deliveries for the Helix, which will be sold only in the United States, begin June 10, 2024. Prospective U.S. buyers need only time for the training and at least $190,000 (before taxes). And Pivotal CEO Ken Karklin says the “market is ready for the wonder of aerial recreation and short-hop eVTOL travel.”
And based on the initial reaction, it seems the market is ready. Pivotal COO Kristina Menton told TechCrunch at the event that potential customers were already making reservations (which requires a refundable $250) within the first hour of online sales.
The single-seat aircraft doesn’t require Federal Aviation Administration pilot certification. The Helix, due to its lightweight status weighing about 348 pounds, complies with the FAA Part 103 (Ultralight) category in the United States. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some regulations, however. The FAA requires Ultralight aircraft can fly over only noncongested areas and away from airports. Pivotal requires all buyers to go through training. There are a few other requirements for buyers; they must be at least 18 years old, weigh less than 220 pounds and have a maximum standing height of 6 feet 5 inches.
And there are some limitations. Owners won’t be able to fly long distances with the Helix, an aircraft with more than 20 miles of range and a charge time of about 75 minutes from 20% to 100% battery using a 240V charger.
The Helix is available in three configurations, all of which include required training. The base $190,000 package includes the Helix aircraft with a white-and-carbon fiber exterior finish and a digital flight panel, canopy, HD landing camera, charger, vehicle cart, custom marking and warranty.
The second package starts at $240,000 and offers a gloss white-and-striped carbon fiber exterior finish and includes the features above, plus a trailer with dual-wing cart, 4k camera with landing assist, recording and sharing features, an ADS-B air traffic system, two chargers and an enhanced warranty. That trailer, by the way, is how owners might cart there Helix around. Pivotal says the Helix can be assembled in 30 minutes. When disassembled, it can fit into a 16-foot trailer.
The third package is priced at $260,000 and offers an exterior in gloss white and carbon fiber with custom accent color and includes the features above, plus a premium flight deck, three chargers, beacon aircraft lighting, integrated emergency locator transmitter, one additional training slot for a friend or family member, and the option to fully customize the exterior at additional cost, design dependent.
The Helix aircraft will be manufactured in Palo Alto. Customers can order the Helix online with a $250 nonrefundable application fee. However, to secure the production slot and forecasted ship date, a deposit of $50,000 is due within five business days of initial order placement, according to the company.