Beta Alia: First Manned eVTOL Transition

Watch: Beta achieves first piloted eVTOL cruise in Alia-250
Image source: Beta Technologies.

The Vermont-based eVTOL Beta Technologies developing electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft achieved another milestone. Therefore, the company became the first to perform a transition from helicopter-style (VTOL) hovering to airplane-like (wing-borne) cruising and back with a pilot on board. 

The transition test started at New York’s Plattsburgh International Airport, with the aircraft piloted by former U.S. Air Force test pilot Nate Moyer. In the company’s YouTube video, Moyer said “The transition is a massive technological hurdle for aviation, being able to safely cross that is huge,”, adding that “Obviously, it’s big for the business, but it’s also big for the industry as a whole.

Some specs of the Alia-250 include a 15-meter (50 ft) wingspan with an electric propulsion system powered by lithium batteries that offer an estimated range of 402 km (250 miles) and a maximum speed of 222 km/h (138 mph). The company also develops a modular charging system called the Charge Cube that can charge the aircraft in 50 minutes at 350 kW.

In a press release, the company said “We’ve been progressing toward this technical milestone for a while,”, adding “It’s a new flight regime, and we fly all our missions with a pilot in the seat, so we approached it the best way we know how: by respecting physics. Like everything we do at BETA, we took a methodical, step-by-step approach.

The company also previously received the very first military airworthiness approval for manned electric aircraft flight in 2021, while a couple of months ago, the company also delivered the Alia platform in conventional take-off and landing configuration to the US Air Force.

The company aims for an FAA type certification for this aircraft in 2026, with further plans for air taxi and cargo configurations.

Founded in 2017, the company is headquartered in Burlington, Vermont, United States.

Ashton Henning

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