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Beta achieves manned eVTOL transition

Electric aerospace developer Beta Technologies achieved a milestone when its electric vertical takeoff and landing Alia 250 prototype transitioned from powered-lift flight to wing-borne flight and back again, with a pilot on board, in Plattsburgh, New York.

Photo courtesy of Beta Technologies.

The Alia VTOL (A250) features a fixed wing and is electrically powered by four vertical-lift propellers and one rear pusher-propeller. Once the aircraft reaches cruise speed and lift is achieved by the fixed wing, the vertical propellers power down.

The transition test was piloted by former U.S. Air Force test pilot Nate Moyer. “The transition is a massive technological hurdle for aviation, being able to safely cross that is huge,” Moyer said in the company’s YouTube video posted on April 23. “Obviously, it’s big for the business, but it’s also big for the industry as a whole.”

The Vermont-based company began development of the A250 and its eCTOL counterpart in 2019, and over the last five years the company has achieved several milestones, including setting the record for the longest manned flight of a battery-powered aircraft, covering 336 nautical miles in 2022. Since 2020 Beta’s Alia prototype has flown more than 40,000 nautical miles.

“We’ve been progressing toward this technical milestone for a while,” the company said in a press release. “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 A250 is designed to be runway independent and combine the benefits of a helicopter with the range and speed of a fixed-wing aircraft. Through its zero-emission design, the company says the Alia will help reduce maintenance and operating costs and increase reliability and safety for carriers.

Beta will continue to conduct testing on its CTOL and VTOL models with FAA certification planned for 2025 and 2026 respectively.

Data collected from this test flight, as well as all other flight tests, are being used to prove the company’s design as it works toward certifying the A250, a necessary step to bring this aircraft to market. Beta plans to enter the Alia into service with the military, then cargo carriers, and finally passenger operations.

Niki Britton
eMedia Content Producer
eMedia Content Producer Niki Britton joined AOPA in 2021. She is a private pilot who enjoys flying her 1969 Cessna 182 and taking aerial photographs.
Topics: Electric, Advanced Air Mobility

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