South Burlington, VT, USA
Beta Technologies, founded by entrepreneur Kyle Clark, is developing an eVTOL aircraft; the technology demonstrator is dubbed the “Ava XC.” The company is one of several electric VTOL companies receiving funding from Martine Rothblatt’s United Therapeutics.
Although eVTOL.news had reported on articles in Fall 2018, Beta truly unveiled its vehicle, in Jan. 2019. Details on the technology demonstrator are limited. It has a classic airplane fuselage body, partially derived from the Lancair ES, and fixed wings from the LX7 by RDD Enterprises. Extending left and right from the nose, and aft between wings and tail, are four tilting co-axial propellers (for a total of eight). The control system is fly-by-wire requiring a pilot. The prototype can carry two passengers.
The demonstrator began test-flying with hover flights at New York State’s Plattsburgh International Airport in May 2018 — just 10 months after the project started. It is now flying routinely and expanding the envelope for short take-offs. The company has made more than 170 flights as early Jan. 2019.
The company is also constructing landing platforms on shipping containers that would supply battery packs for the vehicles. A network of charging stations would allow for longer-distance travel. They have also considered these platforms to have sleeping areas for the pilots.
Beta Technologies states that they believe their 4,000 lb (1.8 metric ton) prototype is the largest electric plane by weight ever to fly. The aircraft has a 35 ft (10.7 m) wingspan and sits on an extended length landing gear to provide clearance for the tilting propellers.
Beta’s marketing plan is to start with cargo and ultimately develop a six-passenger model. They intend to be the first company to make a cross-country eVTOL flight with the production version of Ava. According to VTDigger, “Under construction now in Beta’s company’s workshop is a craft that will be twice the size of the prototype, able to do twice the distance. It will have a wingspan of under 50 feet and will be able to fly 290 miles before recharging, Clark said. It’s due for its first flight in December 2019. Eventually, Clark expects the commercial version to cost approximately $1 million, about the same as a conventional six-seat propeller plane. He plans to create [air]craft used for cargo first, and then passenger craft.”
- Company website
- Article: Beta Technologies, a Vermont Air Taxi Start-Up, Might Be About to Change the Aviation World, by Eric Adams, The Drive, Jan. 11, 2019
- Article: Snow Can’t Stop the Edward Scissorhands of Flying Cars, by Eric Adams, Wired, Jan. 10, 2019
- Article: Making it in Vermont: An electric helicopter that can get to Boston in an hour, VTDIGGER, December 2, 2018
- Article: Beta Technologies Races to Develop Electric Aviation, Seven Days, October 17, 2018