Electric VTOL aircraft startup Beta Technologies is now valued at $1.4 billion after closing a $368 million funding round led by Fidelity and Amazon’s Climate Fund. The Vermont-based company has said that proceeds will be used to refine its electric propulsion systems and controls as well as the construction of manufacturing facilities, while continuing to advance toward Federal Aviation Administration...
Electric VTOL aircraft startup Beta Technologies is now valued at $1.4 billion after closing a $368 million funding round led by Fidelity and Amazon’s Climate Fund. The Vermont-based company has said that proceeds will be used to refine its electric propulsion systems and controls as well as the construction of manufacturing facilities, while continuing to advance toward Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification of ALIA.
The funding announcement comes shortly after Beta’s acquisition of a MFR (Military Flight Release) from the United States Air Force for its ALIA aircraft. The MFR from the Air Force will now allow Beta to perform flight tests in collaboration with the Air Force with a pilot on board. Backed by the U.S. Military, the startup now spans its reach across multiple industries, including air medical delivery, cargo logistics, government, and passenger travel, featuring partnerships with United Therapeutics, UPS, and Blade.
“We’re gratified for the confidence this diverse group of investors has placed in our team as we continue on our mission to transform how people and goods move about the world,” said Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO. “These funds allow us to continue hiring the best talent, meet aggressive certification milestones, ramp up production of ALIA, and accelerate the rollout of an extensive high-speed universal charging infrastructure.”
“We support BETA Technologies’ mission to reshape air transportation through zero-emission aviation and are proud to invest in them through Amazon’s $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund,” said Kara Hurst, Vice President, and Head of Worldwide Sustainability at Amazon. “The development of sustainable and decarbonizing technologies will help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the planet for future generations.”
BETA’s ALIA aircraft, which will be capable of flying 250 nautical miles on a single charge and carrying six people, or a pilot and 1,500 pounds, includes a novel combination of elements that create a smooth and quiet flying experience. In addition to being more than ten times quieter than a helicopter and much quieter than cars on a highway, ALIA produces zero operational emissions. The large wings, clean design, and simple propulsion system are based on first principle engineering. The company philosophy is to reduce risk in certifying its first commercial aircraft through simplification.
In other news, BETA also announced it has initiated the permitting process to expand its footprint in Vermont with a new facility to be built on unused land at Burlington International Airport (BTV). The project, which when completed will include office space, research and development, and manufacturing space, is expected to create hundreds of new jobs in the coming years. These well-paid positions in construction, engineering, design, mechanical and manufacturing roles will continue to deliver on BETA’s commitment to Vermont and its economy.
Sources // BETA; Reuters
Beta Technologies, an innovative Vermont-based eVTOL developer, has recently become one of the first eVTOL companies to ever receive a MFR (Military Flight Release) from the United States Air Force. This marks one of the first ever such approvals for a vertical flight electric aircraft. Capable of both fixed-wing forward flight and vertical take-off, BETA’s ‘Alia’ aircraft weighs in at...
Beta Technologies, an innovative Vermont-based eVTOL developer, has recently become one of the first eVTOL companies to ever receive a MFR (Military Flight Release) from the United States Air Force. This marks one of the first ever such approvals for a vertical flight electric aircraft.
Capable of both fixed-wing forward flight and vertical take-off, BETA’s ‘Alia’ aircraft weighs in at arounnd 7,000lbs, and can carry at least four passengers plus a pilot. The aircraft will remain semi-autonomous during initial operations, but will have full-autonomous capabilities. BETA expects the Alia to go into operation within the next five years, and has already inked partnerships with both BLADE Urban Air Mobility and UPS.
The MFR from the Air Force will now allow Beta to perform flight tests in collaboration with the Air Force with a pilot on board. For now, the MFR is allowing these tests only for fixed-wing forward flight mode of the aircraft, rather than for vertical flights as well. After an early series of tethered hover tests, Beta has been flying Alia with its overhead lifting propellers removed while it tests the aircraft’s fixed-wing handling abilities and characteristics. The company plans to return to hover testing in the near future, and expects its work with the Air Force to eventually fully test Alia’s vertical capabilities and complete flight envelope as well.
With this announcement, Beta becomes competitive with Joby Aviation, which was the very first eVTOL aircraft to receive an MFR through the U.S Air Force’s Agility Prime initiative. Both companies have received approval from the FAA for piloted flight tests, but Joby only received it from the USAF for unmanned flight tests, whereas Beta’s are now for piloted tests.
Why it’s important: Beta Technologies has now inked deals with both UPS and BLADE urban air mobility. Now that is has approval for manned flight tests from the Air Force, it will become one of the first US-based eVTOLs to fly manned. Although Joby has recently taken much of the limelight through its partnerships with Agility Prime and massive fundraising, Beta has well earned a spot competing with it, and should be watched closely as it develops further.
BLADE Urban Air Mobility has announced securing options for up to 20 BETA Technologies ALIA EVA (electric vertical aircraft) for order by BLADE UAM’s network of operators this morning via press release. The announcement will allow BLADE’s network of operators the option to sign purchase agreements for the EVA, which would be delivered in late 2024, ahead of the initial...
BLADE Urban Air Mobility has announced securing options for up to 20 BETA Technologies ALIA EVA (electric vertical aircraft) for order by BLADE UAM’s network of operators this morning via press release.
The announcement will allow BLADE’s network of operators the option to sign purchase agreements for the EVA, which would be delivered in late 2024, ahead of the initial projected readiness date of 2025. While other manufacturers have outlined challenges in achieving readiness by mid-2020’s, BETA continues to make significant strides to make and beat their timelines.
Additionally, BLADE will enter into a partnership with Jet Linx Aviation, LLC supported by Red Bird Capital Partners, related to the purchase of the ALIA EVA’s. Blade UAM CEO Rob Wiesenthal characterized the motivation behind the announcement, while also stating that BLADE will continue to remain open to other manufacturer’s aircraft as they become available: “Blade is laser focused on its transition from conventional rotorcraft to Electric Vertical Aircraft. The ALIA’s extremely low sound footprint, coupled with its zero emissions design, will enable us to reduce the noise and environmental impact to the communities surrounding the existing heliport and airport infrastructure we currently use. ALIA is a full scale EVA flying in piloted configuration almost every day.”
Wiesenthal also commented that the ALIA was well-suited for the challenging operational environment that the Northeast presents – cold winters, wind, and periods of inclement weather. Fortunately, the ALIA was developed in a similar environment in the Northeast and is well-suited to address those environmental concerns. A number of other entities have selected the ALIA for other uses – UPS for logistics and package delivery, United Therapeutics for organ transplant, and the Air Force for defense purposes. BLADE UAM’s selection and order of ALIA’s is the first landmark commercial passenger transport announcement for the BETA team.
Further, the two companies maintain a similar stature of operations – BLADE is already flying customers on demand in routes well suited to the ALIA’s capabilities, and BETA is already flying the ALIA EVA regularly during test flights. The two companies are in agreement that a full stack, vertical approach to the on demand commercial aerial mobility problem may be too large of a scope to effectively address, and that leveraging strengths is a more effective means for earlier deployment of EVA services to passengers.
The ALIA EVA includes a unique combination of elements that create a smooth, quiet flying experience, with applications for moving both people and cargo, all while producing zero operational emissions. According to BETA, ALIA can fly six people 250 nautical miles on a single charge and the aircraft is more than 10x quieter than a helicopter, imperceptible over normal urban noise and quieter than cars on a highway. As part of the agreement, BETA has committed that ALIA will meet the necessary specifications required to operate on Blade’s key routes prior to delivery. Purchases of ALIA EVA are conditioned on FAA type certification of the aircraft prior to the scheduled delivery date. Blade has committed to facilitate the purchase of at least five and up to 20 aircraft by its network of operators or third parties that will lease the aircraft to Blade operators.
BETA is currently in pursuit of Part 23 Certification with the FAA, and cites the simplicity of design of its aircraft as a key enabling feature to its future success. The ALIA has fixed pitch propellers, centralized batteries, and pragmatism of controllability that is crucial for safe, efficient operation.
Why it’s important: Following suit of UPS’ significant announcement last week for orders of the Alia EVA, BLADE Urban Air Mobility is proving complement to the confidence placed in BETA’s new aircraft, and is similar to UPS in that BLADE is already actualizing the end case – transportation of paying customers, on demand. The net change for BLADE will be an equipment swap, albeit a significant one with reduced noise foot print, operating cost, and increased efficiency. Fortunately, both BETA and BLADE will play to their strengths if the options for up to 20 ALIA EVA’s are exercised.
UPS, together with its UPS Flight Forward subsidiary, plans to purchase electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies (BETA) to augment its air service for select small and mid-size markets. These aircraft will take off and land on-property at UPS facilities in a whisper-quiet fashion, reducing time-in-transit, vehicle emissions, and operating cost. The BETA aircraft’s 1,400-pound cargo capacity is...
UPS, together with its UPS Flight Forward subsidiary, plans to purchase electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies (BETA) to augment its air service for select small and mid-size markets. These aircraft will take off and land on-property at UPS facilities in a whisper-quiet fashion, reducing time-in-transit, vehicle emissions, and operating cost.
The BETA aircraft’s 1,400-pound cargo capacity is ideally suited to more quickly and sustainably transport time-sensitive deliveries that would otherwise fly on small fixed-wing aircraft. UPS’s use of the aircraft will benefit healthcare providers, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, and other companies in smaller communities. With a 250-mile range and cruising speed of up to 170 miles per hour, UPS will be able to plan a series of short routes, or one long route, on a single charge to meet customers’ needs.
“This is all about innovation with a focus on returns for our business, our customers, and the environment,” said UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer Juan Perez. “These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operations.”
The aviation logistics industry is now focusing on small aircraft, which UPS already uses to serve many small and medium-sized communities, to develop groundbreaking, sustainable electric-powered solutions. BETA’s aircraft has four fixed vertical lift propellers and one pusher propeller for forward flight. It can charge in an hour or less, and produces zero operational emissions.
“We’re combining simple, elegant design and advanced technology to create a reliable aircraft with zero operational emissions that will revolutionize how cargo moves,” said BETA founder and CEO Kyle Clark. “By utilizing vertical takeoffs and landings, we can turn relatively small spaces at existing UPS facilities into a micro air feeder network without the noise or operating emissions of traditional aircraft.”
UPS has also reserved BETA’s recharging station for a seamless and fully integrated electric aviation system. The BETA charging station helps ensure safe and rapid charging of the aircraft in under one hour, and facilitates a quick turn-around for the loading and unloading of cargo.
The charging station also offers the aircraft’s batteries a second life cycle: after the batteries’ first life cycle in the aircraft concludes, they can be fitted to the charging stations to recharge the aircraft’s onboard batteries as well as UPS’s fleet of electric ground vehicles. UPS currently operates more than 12,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles, and has announced a commitment to purchase up to 10,000 more EV’s.
BETA’s aircraft are designed to someday operate autonomously as technologies and regulations are established. UPS Flight Forward received the first U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 135 Standard air carrier certification to operate a drone airline, and is operating daily revenue-generating flights with drones. The FAA certification also enables UPS Flight Forward to fly payloads of up to 7,500 lbs. either with an operator or autonomously.
Last month, BETA advanced to the next phase of flight testing, completing an interstate flight from its Plattsburgh, NY test facility to its Burlington, Vt. headquarters. In accordance with FAA protocols for experimental aircraft to fly beyond its home airport, BETA had to complete rigorous testing to ensure reliable and predictable behavior of the aircraft. In the same week, the company set a new personal-best in range while also reaching 8,000 feet in altitude.
The first ten BETA aircraft are scheduled to begin arriving in 2024, with an option to purchase up to 150 of the aircraft.
Why it matters: UPS’ investment in BETA aircraft is amongst a growing list of major orders by sustained aircraft operators. As the aviation industry realizes the cost savings potential of eVTOL platforms, many will flock to this alternative for last mile, short haul operations. With an expected EIS of 2024, electric aerial mobility solutions could soon be fueling one of the largest companies in the logistics/air cargo space.
// Source: UPS Press Release
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.” Custom graphic from the launch event of...
BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation are planning to hold a ceremony to commemorate the groundbreaking of an “advanced urban air mobility technology simulator” facility at Ohio’s Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport. Designed by the two pioneering eVTOL startups themselves, the facility will accelerate the Air Force’s deepening exploration of the vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.”
In June of this year, Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation became the first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL initiative of the United States Air Force, and is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential acquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Why it’s important: Over the years, Springfield has become increasingly important to Air Force research. Its airspace has also been approved for testing beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities for unmanned aircraft or drones above the airport. As highlighted by AFRL Commander Pringle, the establishment of an air taxi simulator facility “paves the way for AFRL and the Ohio community to advance the science and better understand an innovative capability with both military and commercial benefits.”
Source // Dayton Daily News
The Alia is the second aircraft created by Vermont-based startup Beta Technologies, the first being the Beta Technologies Ava. The Alia will be Beta's commercially produced aircraft, while the Ava was only a prototype. According to CEO Kyle Clark, the design of the Alia was inspired by migratory birds of the Arctic, and testing of the aircraft for FAA certification is already underway. Beta Technologies has been under development for over five years, with the vision of creating emissions free, highly accessible travel by air.
Beta Technologies, based in Burlington, Vermont
Stage of Development
Aircraft Type: Winged VTOL
Propeller Configuration: Four vertical lift propellers, one rear pusher propeller
Top Speed: 145 kts
Passenger Capacity: Six seats
Payload Capacity: 1,500 lbs
Autonomy Level: Semi-autonomous with eventual full autonomy
Dimensions: 50 ft wingspan
Propulsion: Direct-Drive Electric
MTOW: 6,300 lbs
Cargo Configuration: 200 cubic feet
Our Take on ALIA
Beta Technologies is made up of a team of highly capable individuals who have dedicated themselves to providing the world with all-electric flight. Not only is Beta making aircraft, it is also take a 'whole systems approach' by designing modular recharging stations that will feature rapid charging, on-site maintenance, solar charging, and more. Although Beta is but a startup rather than a larger company, its efforts are certainly competitive with those of well-established companies. Despite not often publishing news, the company is most certainly making significant headway, and so is on the the top of our aircraft Watchlist.
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Beta Technologies unveiled its newest air taxi design, called the ‘Alia’, this week, when it moved the aircraft prototype from Burlington, Vermont to Plattsburgh, New York. Notably, Beta is one of two companies, along with Joby Aviation, to have been selected by the US Air Force to advance to the next stage of development in Agility Prime. The Alia features...
Beta Technologies unveiled its newest air taxi design, called the ‘Alia’, this week, when it moved the aircraft prototype from Burlington, Vermont to Plattsburgh, New York. Notably, Beta is one of two companies, along with Joby Aviation, to have been selected by the US Air Force to advance to the next stage of development in Agility Prime.
The Alia features four horizontally mounted rotors for vertical lift and a single rear-facing propeller for forward flight, and the entire aircraft is sleek and tapered at the ends, bringing to mind the image of a bird in flight. According to Beta Technologies founder Kyle Clark, the inspiration behind the Alia’s design can be accredited to the Artic tern, well known for its yearly migration from the northern Arctics all the way down to Antarctica, a total distance of about 25,000 miles (40,000 km), a feat that the Alia hopes to eventually match. The design is unique among most eVTOL aircraft; most eVTOLs use tilt-rotor systems where the rotors point up for takeoff and landing, and tilt forward for horizontal flight. Instead, each of the Alia’s rotors will be fixed, and it will mainly rely upon the sizable wingspan and the rear propellor for sufficient horizontal flight. The main advantage of this design is reliability. Fixed rotors will require fewer parts and complications, which allows for quicker certification and less maintenance. Because of this, Beta’s engineers can also optimize their designs without worrying about tradeoffs, according to propulsion engineer Herman Wiegman.
“Our primary objective is to meet our first customer’s mission, reliable organ delivery when and where it’s needed,” Clark says. “We couldn’t have an aircraft that had any possibility of being grounded for repairs due to a complex system.”
Few technical specifications were released at this time, but Beta intends for the Alia to eventually be able to fly a total distance of 250 miles (400 km) while only requiring one hour to charge. The Alia has a wingspan of 50 ft (15 m) and a total takeoff weight of 6,000 lb. (2721 kg). However, the prototype version in its demonstration flight over Lake Chaplain weighed in at only 3800 lb (1723 kg), with components not required for the flight having been stripped from the aircraft. The sheer size of the Alia’s wingspan will also allow for less power output from its rotors, greatly improving the efficiency of eVTOL aircraft. As for its power source, the Alia will use existing battery technology as its main source of propulsion and lift.
United Therapeutics, the primary client of Beta Technologies, intends to use the Alia as part of implementing an efficient and environmentally friendly distribution system. Additionally, Beta Technologies hopes to expand usage of the Alia by developing an ecosystem where it can charge at locations along its most common flight routes, which could be for any sort of commercial applications, cargo transportation, and air taxis.
Beta looks to begin testing the transition from vertical to forward flight in the summer of 2020. According to Clark, the purpose of the Alia is to understand its flight characteristics as first a conventional airplane, then a helicopter, and finally as an eVTOL.
Why it’s important: Beta Technologies work with the Alia is for the development of an ultra efficient flight-control system, avionics, and power management software where Beta can reliably make both urgent transplant organ deliveries to hospitals and send passengers across towns or between cities. The successful development of the Alia could completely change how all other future eVTOL designs are approached.
Source // Wired
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of...
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation have just become first developers of urban air mobility vehicles to progress to the third stage of the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.
The Agility Prime program is the flagship eVTOL program of the United States Air Force, as an increasing number of military organizations across the world become more interested in applications of aerial mobility technology as supplemental (and eventually in replacement of) current mobility offerings for both manned and unmanned missions. The initiative is best described as an exchange of government resources with private companies for knowledge transfer, aerial demonstration flights, and potential aquisitions of various aerial mobility companies that elect to participate.
Beta Technologies and Joby Aviation are engaged in area of Interest One (AOI-1) of the solicitation campaign, which is seeking vehicles capable of transporting three to eight people at least 100 miles (160 kilometers) at speeds of at least 100 mph, with first flight taking place before the end of this year.
In a press release, Air Force program executive officer for Mobility and Training Aircraft, Lynda Rutledge, articulated the organization’s excitement to work with these innovative and quick-moving air vehicle manufacturers. In the first phase of the collaboration, Beta and Joby submitted “solutions briefs”. These led to a second phase in which the Air Force engaged with them directly to assess their vehicles’ commercial viability, operational utility, technical readiness level, certification path, timelines, needs, and opportunities. Now in the third stage, the OEMs may submit full written proposals for the potential award of an “Other Transaction for Prototype” (OTP) agreement.
Beta and Joby are among the most advanced and well-funded eVTOL developers in an increasingly crowded market. California-based Joby unveiled its prototype air taxi in January of this year, when it also announced $590 million in Series C funding, the bulk of which came from Toyota Motor Corp. Vermont-based Beta — which has already conducted an extensive flight test campaign with its Ava XC prototype — is now poised to reveal its new eVTOL, called ALIA. It has a launch customer in United Therapeutics, which plans to use the 6,000-pound (2,720-kilogram) aircraft to transport human organs.
Why it’s important: The defense sector’s increased interest in aerial mobility is providing a contract diversification opportunity for manufacturers such as Beta and Joby. The companies could greatly benefit in the long run by providing their products to both commercial and military applications, as it would enable financial diversity and mitigate the impact of a downturn in a single sector. The benefit of this strategy has recently been underscored by the impact of COVID-19; as the commercial aviation industry and aircraft orders have stalled, defense contractors continue to fulfill demand at exceedingly high rates.
Sources // USAF; eVTOL.com
GPMS developed a Health & Usage Monitoring System to serve emerging eVTOL applications. Vermont-based Beta Technologies is currently developing the second iteration of its eVTOL prototype at their facility in South Burlington. The new prototype will build upon many of the design features seen in the company’s first iteration, the Ava, and we can likely expect a redesigned structure to...
GPMS developed a Health & Usage Monitoring System to serve emerging eVTOL applications.
Vermont-based Beta Technologies is currently developing the second iteration of its eVTOL prototype at their facility in South Burlington. The new prototype will build upon many of the design features seen in the company’s first iteration, the Ava, and we can likely expect a redesigned structure to more closely fit the requirements of various aerial mobility applications. One technology that will certainly be seen in Beta’s next prototype is Foresight, a Next Generation Health & Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) designed specifically for electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Foresight is the flagship product of Vermont-based GPMS, and combines advanced sensors and cloud-based software to provide remote monitoring and predictive maintenance capability. The software is designed to give rotorcraft operators the power to “know it before it matters.” Installation of Foresight MX on the Beta platform will enable Beta to reduce operational costs through advanced notification of impending maintenance requirements while adhering to budget, space and weight constraints of operators. Additionally, Beta engineers will be able to remotely monitor their rotorcraft, accessing data and analytics for advanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance.
The GPMS Foresight MX system provides mechanical diagnostics and prognostics including engine performance monitoring, exceedance monitoring, flight regime recognition, automated data acquisition, and optimization solutions for rotor, track and balance. The Foresight MX computer weighs a fraction of legacy system, provides automatic alerting through email and SMS, and has a user interface accessible through web browser on a laptop, desktop, tablet or cell phone. Beta engineers will be able to monitor their rotorcraft directly, accessing data and analytics for advanced diagnostics and predictive maintenance. “eVTOLs share with traditional helicopters the need to understand and continuously evaluate the health and condition of key mechanical systems,” said GPMS CEO and Chief Engineer, Eric Bechhoefer in a press release. “We are excited to enter this market with Beta.”
Why it’s important: GPMS has the technical acumen to provide a condition monitoring system adaptable to a vehicle’s needs at a reasonable price point. As Beta iterates upon its already proven prototype, the new partnership with GPMS could be an immensely valuable launchpad for GPMS to demonstrate its technology. Eventually, Foresight may be integrated with the onboard systems of many other aerial mobility vehicles.
Source // GPMS press release
Kyle Clark, Founder of Beta Technologies, has been quietly accumulating top talent from GE, Scaled Composites, Lord/Microstrain, Aurora Flight Sciences and other companies on the cutting-edge of aviation technology to develop and test the Ava XC prototype aircraft. Until an undisclosed amount of funding was received from United Therapeutics last year, Beta had been in “stealth mode” for almost two...
Kyle Clark, Founder of Beta Technologies, has been quietly accumulating top talent from GE, Scaled Composites, Lord/Microstrain, Aurora Flight Sciences and other companies on the cutting-edge of aviation technology to develop and test the Ava XC prototype aircraft. Until an undisclosed amount of funding was received from United Therapeutics last year, Beta had been in “stealth mode” for almost two years, prioritizing rapid prototyping and well over 170 test flights above a media presence.
Beta Technologies teamed with United Therapeutics, a biotechnology company founded by Martine Rothblatt, to transport organs. The company, however, has additional goals beyond just emergency response. In a recent interview, Kyle explained how Beta envisions other uses for its eVTOL aircraft, beginning with an “aircraft that can fly within the current national airspace.” Beta is poised to first have a special R&D experimental airworthiness certificate for their vehicle, and eventually shape the way FAA regulatory changes are made to accommodate eVTOLs by gaining confidence with reliable and safe flight testing, according to Clark.
Ava XC is a fixed-wing eVTOL with eight propellers on 90-degree tilting nacelles which are powered by two 124 kWh lithium-ion battery packs. At first glance, Ava XC does not look too much different than a traditional winged aircraft, but Beta Technologies’ electric propulsion and battery-storage technologies are the driving force behind the design. For more about Ava XC and a video of the prototype during transition envelope testing, visit the Hangar.
What differentiates Beta Technologies from many other eVTOL OEMs is their pursuit to also install charging stations at specific locations with “solar- and grid-powered recharging pad technology”. Clark claims that the technology will provide “frequency regulation (short term power) and voltage management” and will use reclaimed aircraft batteries to cut costs and recycle materials. So far, Beta has already built a megawatt-scale recharging pad in Vermont and has plans for 50 more across the East coast for ancillary grid and recharging services.
Why it’s important: Later this year, Beta Technologies plans to debut its production aircraft, a highly anticipated milestone for the company. Kyle Clark’s experience in power electronics could bode well for Beta’s future success. Further, Beta’s investment in the development of high-performance charging infrastructure has the potential to both give the company a long-term competitive edge and advance the electric aviation industry as a whole.
Beta's eVTOL, Ava, combines the flight characteristics of a helicopter, drone and fixed-wing airplane with cockpit and control systems that revolutionize the pilot's interface. Beta has partnered with, and is funded by, United Therapeutics biotechnology company. The eVTOL is ultimately designed to carry organs from a manufacturing facility to hospitals.
Video // Eric Adams
Stage of Development
Aircraft Type: VTOL with fixed wing
Powerplant: All-electric. Beta is also creating a recharging dock for the Ava – a landing pad that will recharge the aircraft.
Range: 150 miles.
Top Speed: 170 mph.
Propeller Configuration: 4 pairs of counter-rotating rotors. A flight controller distributes electric propulsion power based on position and direction of each rotor.
Passenger/Payload Capacity: Single passenger technology demonstrator
Autonomy Level: Semi-autonomous with eventual full-autonomy capability
Dimensions: 34 ft wingspan
Flight controls: Hybrid flight control design - collective lever in the left hand that modulates the speed of the propellers and thrust, traditional foot pedals control the rudder and clockwise/counter-clockwise differential of the rotors, and right-hand sidestick for the mechanical flight control surfaces and the fly-by-wire controller for distributed propulsion.
Funding: Backed by biotechnology company, United Therapeutics.
Our Take on Beta
Beta Technologies is strategically located in Burlington, VT for easier access to the state's congressional delegation, the airport's leadership and, by extension, its Federal Aviation Administration staff - the company currently occupies a Horizon Air hangar at Burlington International Airport. While regulatory and certification hurdles are ahead for Beta's Ava, the relationships they have built will help them navigate that process. Beta made over 170 test flights in 2018, and was able to go from an initial concept to "wheels off the ground" in just 10 months, an impressive feat. The company is now also focusing on the 'Alia', a larger version of its aircraft.
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California-based Archer Aviation has debuted its inaugural eVTOL air taxi, the Maker. The Maker is set to begin production in 2022, where United Airlines will be one of their first commercial customers. Revealed at a global livestream from Los Angeles, the Maker serves as Archer’s demonstrator prototype aircraft and will serve as the final testbed before commercial production begins. The...
California-based Archer Aviation has debuted its inaugural eVTOL air taxi, the Maker. The Maker is set to begin production in 2022, where United Airlines will be one of their first commercial customers. Revealed at a global livestream from Los Angeles, the Maker serves as Archer’s demonstrator prototype aircraft and will serve as the final testbed before commercial production begins.
The Maker is a two-seater autonomous fixed-wing eVTOL aircraft that can reach speeds of up to 150 mph, powered by 12 total rotors — 6 larger tilt rotors for lift on takeoff and thrust in forward flight, and 6 smaller rotors that are only used during VTOL flight, all attached to struts along the aircraft’s 40-foot wingspan. According to Archer, the Maker’s full-electric motors mean that the aircraft is 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter. In addition, the aircraft weighs in at 3300 lbs, powered by 6 independant battery packs totaling 75 kWh. With a range of 60 cruising miles, the Maker is expected to serve as an air taxi that provides shuttle service between airports such as Manhattan and JFK in just 10-20 minutes.
“Maker’s unveil has been years in the making and marks a pivotal juncture for the eVTOL industry and future of transportation,” said Brett Adcock, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer. “Every day at Archer, we’re working to build the future, and we have never felt closer than we did introducing the world to Maker.”
According to Archer, the Maker’s distributed electric propulsion system provides additional degrees of safety through redundancy, able to suffer one complete battery failure or two rotor failures and still be able to land. The aircraft also only uses 30% of its battery capacity per trip and can rapidly recharge between trips in 10 minutes. At peak efficiency, Archer estimates that each Maker will be able to complete up to 40 flights per day. While full autonomy is still in the works, Archer plans to install both a full-scale autonomous control system connected to a 13-inch touchscreen display as well as the option for a manual control system in the final version of the aircraft, which will also have space for a pilot and 4 passengers.
The first set of flight tests are expected to be completed sometime in the fourth quarter of this year, with manufacturing of the final aircraft to commence in 2022. United Airlines will be one of the first customers, with plans to buy up to $1 billion worth of the upcoming eVTOLs as a way to diminish its carbon footprint.
“Archer has a big, bold company vision and our approach to this milestone moment had to match that,” said Louise Bristow, who leads Marketing and Communications for Archer and assembled the creative team. “We wanted to deliver an experience that went beyond the conventions of normal product launches and to bring together a unique group of partners to create something truly immersive for our audience.”
Why it’s important: Archer adds on to their increasing momentum with the reveal of the Maker. With their recent merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corporation as well as United Airlines’ large-scale order, Archer Aviation is in an excellent financial standing in preparation for their expected commercial launch in 2024.
Source // GlobalNewswire
Eve, the eVTOL project of the EmbraerX urban air mobility initiative, has officially announced a partnership with Ascent, an urban air mobility ecosystem developer, to grow aerial mobility networks in the Asia-Pacific markets. EmbraerX initially announced its unnamed eVTOL project at Uber Elevate 2018, and has since dubbed the aircraft and the program, ‘Eve’. The aircraft’s design is impressive and professional,...
Eve, the eVTOL project of the EmbraerX urban air mobility initiative, has officially announced a partnership with Ascent, an urban air mobility ecosystem developer, to grow aerial mobility networks in the Asia-Pacific markets.
EmbraerX initially announced its unnamed eVTOL project at Uber Elevate 2018, and has since dubbed the aircraft and the program, ‘Eve’. The aircraft’s design is impressive and professional, with 8 vertical lift propellers, 2 pusher propellers, and room for 4 passengers plus a pilot. Dedicated thought was given to the aircraft’s aerodynamic design and cabin, giving it a fixed wing to increase range in forward flight, and an accessible and spacious cabin for passengers.
Ascent meanwhile is a dedicated developer of of aerial mobility technology on the infrastructure and customer side, already offering affordable by-the-seat bookings and operations management for traditional helicopter air taxis. Ascent’s goal is to use new technologies to make cities more connected by moving people seamlessly by air, using ‘helicopters today and eVTOLs in the future’. With a similar business model to BLADE Urban Air Mobility, Ascent recently launched helicopter air taxi services both in Thailand and in the Philippines.
According to a recent press release, the partnership between Ascent and Eve aims the progressive integration of Eve eVTOLs into Ascent’s growing technology platform, which offers air taxi, cargo and air medical services in the Asia-Pacific region. Ascent currently maintains a database of air operator partners that are dedicated to UAM operations throughout Thailand and the Philippines, and is set to expand its presence in the region. Additionally, both EmbraerX and Ascent expect that Eve´s Urban Air Traffic Management (UATM) services will be fully integrated into Ascent technology to ensure secure and scalable operations.
Said Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff, Founder & CEO of Ascent, “This partnership with Eve is a leap forward for Ascent toward achieving our ambition to democratize sustainable urban air mobility. Joining forces with Eve, and by extension counting with the active support from the Embraer Group, will enable us to accelerate our development for a larger impact, secure the entry of market-fit all-electric aircraft, and provide safe and secure operations at scale thanks to urban air traffic management integration”
Said Andre Stein, President & CEO of Eve Urban Air Mobility, “We are pleased to announce this partnership with Ascent as it aligns with our strategy to develop the urban air mobility ecosystem through collaborative efforts and to be a truly global player. Armed with Ascent’s data and platform, we will be well positioned to enter into the Asia Pacific market. On our end, we are committed to supporting Ascent’s growth and its ambition to democratize air mobility.”
Why it’s important: This announcement is yet another representation of the industry’s speedy shift of focus from vehicle creation to commercial operations development. As eVTOL developers the world over are moving closer to certifying their aircraft for commercial flight, some of these companies, such as EmbraerX, are turning to local operators and brokers like BLADE and Ascent to assist in market entry. As the world approaches a full launch of aerial mobility services, keep an eye on these evolving companies as they continue to develop business structures and partnerships that will enable success.
Source // EmbraerX, Ascent
Alauda Aeronautics has completed its first flight of its EXA purpose-built racing eVTOL vehicle. In the summer of 2019 entrepreneur Matthew Pearson stated his ambition to create the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars. His mission was informed by the role racing historically played in accelerating the development of both ground and air mobility. Today, Pearson and his...
Alauda Aeronautics has completed its first flight of its EXA purpose-built racing eVTOL vehicle. In the summer of 2019 entrepreneur Matthew Pearson stated his ambition to create the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars. His mission was informed by the role racing historically played in accelerating the development of both ground and air mobility.
Today, Pearson and his team proudly echo the legacies of automotive and aviation pioneers like Enzo Ferrari, Karl Benz, John Alcock and Arthur Brown in making history through the first flights of a full-scale electric flying racing car, the remotely-piloted Alauda Mk3.
These historic first flights have taken place at undisclosed test locations in the deserts of South Australia under the observation of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Throughout the development process, the Alauda team has worked with the regulator to ensure compliance to all required procedures while developing robust safety protocols. The successful execution of these flights means that uncrewed electric flying car Grand Prixs will take place in 2021 at three soon-to-be-revealed international locations.
These races will see elite pilots drawn from aviation, motorsport and eSports backgrounds to remotely pilot the world’s only racing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft. These pilots will remotely control their Speeders in races across electronically governed, Augmented Reality enabled sky-tracks. Audiences will watch via digital streams that show the full dynamic potential of vehicles that have greater thrust-to-weight ratio than a F15 fighter jet.
These races will rapidly hasten the arrival of eVTOL advanced air mobility craft. This technology, predicted by Morgan Stanley to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2040 is already finding potent applications in air logistics and remote medical care and has the potential to liberate cities from congestion though clean-air passenger applications like air taxis.
“EXA delivers on the promise of a future first shown in science fiction. We are proud to introduce a sport that redefines what humans and machines can achieve together. These historic first flights are just the start and we are all excited to begin a momentous new chapter in motorsport’s rich legacy.” – Matthew Pearson, Founder, Airspeeder and Alauda Aeronautics.
Alauda Aeronautics will continue to design, test, and build the racing vehicle which participate in Airspeeder racing events. Airspeeder EXA Series, previously mentioned, will begin races as early as this year, with crewed races coming in 2022.
Why it matters: By creating the world’s first racing series for electric flying cars, Alauda Aeronautics takes a leadership position in this generation’s defining mobility revolution. It does this by providing a place and a space to rapidly accelerate the development of the key safety, performance and dynamics technologies that will underpin the growth of eVTOL transportation.
Source: Alauda Aeronautics Press Release
Since the beginning of the recent coronavirus resurgence in China’s Guangdong Province, EHang has leveraged its autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology by dispatching a flight operations team and multiple AAVs for COVID-19 relief and control efforts in Guangzhou City. Beginning June 4th, EHang has successively deployed the passenger-grade AAV EHang 216, EHang 216L (logistics model), EHang Falcon B series and...
Since the beginning of the recent coronavirus resurgence in China’s Guangdong Province, EHang has leveraged its autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) technology by dispatching a flight operations team and multiple AAVs for COVID-19 relief and control efforts in Guangzhou City.
Beginning June 4th, EHang has successively deployed the passenger-grade AAV EHang 216, EHang 216L (logistics model), EHang Falcon B series and Falcon B (logistics) for epidemic prevention and control efforts.
With the technical advantages of autonomous flight as well as capabilities for rapid response and cluster management, the EHang 216 and EHang 216L AAVs created emergency air transportation routes across the Pearl River in Guangzhou, completing multiple contactless relief and support tasks in the quarantine and containment zones. Tasks covered aerial logistics, emergency transportation, aerial inspections and broadcasting, transporting necessary daily household supplies to residents in the quarantine zones, and implementing urban air mobility (UAM) systems in emergency transportation scenarios.
EHang has been actively involved with epidemic relief and support for 11 days, and the designated flight operations team is reportedly maintaining its station near the quarantine and containment zones to continue with household and emergency supply air transport to reduce risks of front-line staff contacting the virus, and further support the coronavirus control and prevention mission in Guangdong Province with improved efficiency.
Watch a video of the EHang supporting relief efforts: https://www.ehang.
Why it’s important: While Asia responded favorably to early onset of COVID-19, many regions recently experienced increased infection counts. EHang is effectively leveraging its capabilities for urgent medical passenger and cargo transportation with their fleet of aircraft, in a situation that closely reflects the current use cases of aerial mobility vehicles for limited passenger transport and more widely implemented cargo transport. EHang is currently using both their cargo transport aircraft and the 216 AAV for COVID relief efforts in Guangdong.