Beta Technologies Develops eVTOL Aircraft
Jun 16, 2022
Beta Technologies, a Vermont-based company, has been working to develop eVTOL technology for aircraft over the past few years. In March of 2022, Beta, working with the United States Air Force, debuted the first human-piloted test flight of their eVTOL technology.
What Is eVTOL?
eVTOL stands for electric vertical takeoff and landing. As the name suggests, eVTOL technology enables an electricity-powered aircraft to take off and land vertically, rather than needing to build up speed down a runway in order to take off.
Why Are Companies Developing eVTOL Technology?
eVTOL technology is being developed in order to meet two needs emerging in the aircraft industry. The first is for more environmentally friendly aircraft, which is where the “e” comes in. The “VTOL” part of eVTOL seeks to meet a growing demand for aircraft that can function in an urban environment more easily as air taxis.
Who Is Beta Technologies?
Beta Technologies is an aerospace company that was founded in 2017 in Burlington, Vermont by Kyle Clark, a former hockey player. The company manufactures eVTOL technology specifically for the logistics and cargo industries. Beta Technologies’ first customer was United Therapeutics, which was looking for an efficient way to transport organs meant for transplant to patients who needed them.
Beta Technologies is now one of four companies who are participating in the United States Air Force’s Agility Prime program.
What Is Agility Prime?
Agility Prime is a program operated by the US Air Force for the advancement of electric air mobility technology. The four companies that have contracts with the Air Force to participate in the Agility Prime program are:
- Beta Technologies
- Joby Aviation
- Lift Aircraft
- Kitty Hawk
What Is the Alia?
The Alia is Beta Technologies’ second prototype eVTOL aircraft. The company ran its first test flight with the Alia in March of 2021. This test flight was unmanned and involved the aircraft taking off from Plattsburgh in New York, flying across Lake Camplain, and then landing in Burlington, Vermont about 30 miles away.
The Alia was recently tested in its first manned mission in March of 2022 with an Air Force pilot from the Agility Prime program’s team.
Is the Alia Certified by the FAA?
The Alia prototype isn’t yet certified by the FAA, but Beta Technologies hopes to have that certification by 2024. 2024 is also when the company plans to deliver its first orders for Alia model aircraft.
Who Has Ordered the Alia?
Beta Technologies already has multiple orders for Alia model aircraft from companies such as United Parcel Service, which has ordered ten for its Flight Forward program and has the option for ordering more than a hundred more. UPS intends to use the aircraft because the vertical takeoff and landing will enable the company to fly it from its own facilities rather than having to takeoff from a traditional airport.
Blade Urban Air Mobility has also put in an order for Alia aircraft. This company is a passenger aircraft company that has ordered twenty of the Alia.
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