By Jen Nevans

Managing editor Jen Nevans has more than a decade of editorial experience. She is an award-winning writer and editor, receiving numerous accolades for her published articles. Jen is eager to join the eVTOL.com team and cover this exciting and growing industry.

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U.S. Army supports Beta Technologies flight test program

The U.S. Army has expanded its interest in the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector through a new contract with Beta Technologies.

Beta US Army
Beta Technologies has secured a contract with the U.S. Army that will see engineers from both the Army and Beta work together to evaluate how the Alia eVTOL aircraft can be used in Army missions. Beta Technologies Image

“This partnership with the Army marks another important step in the military’s commitment to advancing and adopting sustainable electric aviation solutions,” said Kyle Clark, Beta’s CEO and founder, in a press release issued today. “We’re gratified by the continued support of the sector, and this allows us to accelerate our development of Alia as an incredibly safe and reliable logistics aircraft for both military and civil applications.”

Engineers from both the Army and Beta will work together to evaluate how the Alia can be used in Army missions. This includes measuring the aircraft’s range, altitude, endurance, and payload limits, before testing specific cargo and logistics missions.

According to its website, the Alia-250c is a lift-plus-cruise aircraft with a wingspan of 50 feet (15 meters). The eVTOL developer is targeting a range of 250 nautical miles (around 460 kilometers or 285 miles), with a maximum take-off weight of almost 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms).

This is Beta’s second partnership with a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The Vermont-based AAM company was previously awarded the first airworthiness approval for a manned electric aircraft by the U.S. Air Force in 2021 to participate in flight test campaigns as a part of the Air Force’s Agility Prime program.

At the time, only California’s Joby Aviation had received a U.S. military airworthiness approval for an eVTOL aircraft, but that initial Military Flight Release (MFR) was for unmanned operations only.

The new contract with the U.S. Army is just the latest in a series of developments for Beta over the past year. To further expand its military relationships, Beta added additional military experts to its team last summer by appointing Dr. Will Roper, former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, to its board of directors.

The company has claimed Alia’s fixed-pitched propellers and centrally located batteries make it a stable aircraft to fly and maneuver. Last year, the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) supported that theory by deeming the aircraft stable enough to complete multiple interstate flights — flying between its primary test location in Plattsburgh, New York, across Lake Champlain to the company’s headquarters in Burlington, Vermont.

Beta set company records for endurance, range, and altitude, reaching an altitude of 8,000 ft (2,440 m) during one flight, and a range of 205 mi (330 km) during another. The aircraft was flying in airplane mode with its drag-producing overhead lifting propellers removed. Only Joby Aviation has so far reported the longest full-scale eVTOL flight to date, covering a total distance of 154.6 mi (248.8 km).

In addition to exploring applications in the defense sector, Beta has also announced several launch customers for the aircraft last year, including United Therapeutics for medical missions, UPS for cargo delivery, and Blade for urban air mobility services. The company is targeting certification with the FAA under Part 23, with first deliveries expected in 2024.  

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3 Comments

    1. Do you think the Army hastily stamped an industry partnership out of the ground in the five months since you sent your video? Or do you think it may have to do with Beta already having had a partnership with the Air Force and the Army maintaining an entire four-star command to examine every aspect of future technologies and how they can make the Army more lethal and effective. If you believe your video was instrumental, ask “the generals” to confirm and have your first-line supervisor put you in for an award. Good initiative though. Thank you.

      1. Sure, Beta had been interfacing with the Air Force though agility Prime and had reached out to the Army. Did my video really help?
        Who knows…. I’m not really looking to add another ribbon to my chest.
        What is problematic is a pure electric aircraft made of carbon fiber is not what the Army needs.
        I worry that the the Army will not push this technology forward due to existing contractors and politics….

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