Aircraft Leasing Firm Signs Deal for Unmanned Helicopters

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Florida-based aircraft leasing firm JetLease has signed a deal to offer unmanned, remotely controlled aerial vehicles (UAVs) built by UMS Skeldar, a joint venture between Sweden’s Saab and UMS Aero to military, government and civilian customers. The first aircraft on offer is the vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) Skeldar V-200 rotorcraft.

The deal is believed to be the first of its kind between a major leasing company and maker of UAVs. JetLease is a world-leader in leasing business jets and helicopters, while UMS Skeldar, which is based in Switzerland, is a leading maker of UAVs.

UMS Skeldar CEO Axel Cavalli-Björkman said:

This NATO-compliant platform, demonstrably the best suited across a range of customer sectors, is our strategic focus. Importantly, this exciting new partnership with JetLease makes our SKELDAR V-200 accessible to a range of customers in the ‘blue light’ sector – police, security and emergency services, Search and Rescue (SAR) – and ‘emerging nations’ military markets. Outsourced contracts and third party financing including ‘Power by the Hour’ are attractive options placing our technologies within reach of an increasing number of prospective customers.

David Willems, UMS Skeldar’s head of business development, told Defense News that a typical customer for the financing packages offered by JetLease is a government or military buyer seeking a one- to three-year deal for a specific mission.

As with current leasing deals in the commercial and civilian aviation sectors, the V-200 can be leased with or without crew and support staff (respectively called in the trade “dry” and “wet” leases).

UMS Skeldar already has a two-year contract for two V-200s to provide pollution monitoring, maritime research and rescue, and other roles for the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Right now there is no mention of a UAV that can carry passengers, but how far away can that be?