Alia’s First Deployment with the Department of Defense Was a Success

The Alia completed a three-month deployment with the DoD 8 photos
Photo: Beta Technologies
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Beta Technologies' electric aircraft Alia and dedicated charging station were part of a pioneering three-month deployment with the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Duke Field, Eglin Air Force Base (AFB).
It's no secret that the US military is exploring various emission-free alternatives for its key logistic operations, which include eVTOLs (electric vertical takeoff and landing). A complex program that included experimental operations and training was recently concluded at AFB, with promising results – it looks like all-electric aircraft such as Alia could be a better alternative to standard military transport aircraft in terms of performance and overall resources (including energy cost per flight).

It was Beta Technologies' first deployment with the DoD and the culmination of a collaboration that started back in 2020 when Beta first enrolled in the AFWERX Agility Prime Program. Since then, the Vermont-based eVTOL maker has scored a couple of industry firsts. It was the first to secure an airworthiness certificate for a manned flight from the DoD, and its aircraft was the only one of its kind to conduct piloted evaluation flights with test pilots from the USAF and the Army.

The CTOL version of the Alia aircraft participated in this recent deployment. It's still 100% electric but uses conventional takeoff and landing instead of vertical. It arrived at AFB on October 26, last year. 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 (the first of its kind) and a maintenance recovery team mission.

In both scenarios, Alia proved to save precious time and use fewer resources. For instance, it only needed a two-person crew and $5 worth of electricity to complete the same tasks as a C-130 with at least three crew members and total fuel costs of $1,600.

Beta was also the first to install a charging unit at an Air Force Base. Throughout this deployment, its team and the military personnel used the on-base multimodal fast charger at Duke Field. In addition to these standard charging units, the company is also working on mobile alternatives for contingency and austere locations in support of a wide range of military missions.

Both the CTOL and VTOL versions of the Alia aircraft are still pending formal FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) certification. The CTOL Alia is set to obtain it by next year, while the Alia eVTOL still has two years of work ahead.

In the meantime, Beta is also gearing up for large-scale production. The Alia will be manufactured in South Burlington, Vermont, where the eVTOL maker has built its first 188,500-square-foot (17,500 square meters) production facility. Plus, Beta continues to expand its charging infrastructure network across the US.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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