Beta Technologies’ Alia electric aircraft and its charging station were part of a three-month deployment with the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).
The U.S. military has been exploring various emission-free alternatives for its logistic operations, and it looks like all-electric aircraft such as Alia could be a better alternative to traditional military transport aircraft in terms of performance and resources. The recent experimental operations and training conducted at AFB have shown promising results.
It was Beta Technologies’ first deployment with the Department of Defense (DoD) in collaboration with the AFWERX Agility Prime Program. This marks a significant milestone for the Vermont-based eVTOL maker, which has achieved multiple industry firsts, including securing an airworthiness certificate for a manned flight from the DoD and conducting piloted evaluation flights with test pilots from the USAF and the Army.
Beta’s Alia electric aircraft has a 50-foot wingspan, a range of 250 miles, a top speed of 138 mph, and is 90% quieter than a helicopter.
The deployment included Beta’s Alia CTOL electric aircraft, which is still 100% electric but uses conventional takeoff and landing. It arrived at AFB on October 26 last year, and a MobileDome simulator was also used as a training tool for all-electric flights and emergency procedures. The experimental operations included a simulated casualty evacuation mission with an electric aircraft, which was the first of its kind, and a maintenance recovery team mission. In both scenarios, Alia saved precious time and used fewer resources.
BETA also installed a Level 3 D.C. fast-charger (350kW) – the first-ever electric aircraft charging station at a Department of Defense installation. Its team and military personnel used the on-base multimodal fast charger at Duke Field throughout this deployment. The company also has plans to develop mobile charging solutions for various military missions in challenging environments.
BETA continues to progress its all-electric aircraft, Alia CTOL and Alia VTOL, toward FAA certification, anticipating entry into service in 2025 and 2026, respectively. While the CTOL Alia is expected to receive it by next year, the Alia eVTOL still has two years of work ahead.
Meanwhile, Beta is also preparing for large-scale production and has built its first 188,500-square-foot aircraft production facility in South Burlington, Vermont, where it will begin manufacturing these aircraft on its production line. They’re also expanding their charging infrastructure network across the U.S.