Vertiflite contributor Elan Head was one of a select few journalists to attend TexasUP, held Nov. 19-21, on Ross Perot, Jr.’s Circle T Ranch near Fort Worth, Texas. This third annual summit of investors and developers was organized by JetAviva co-founders Cyrus Sigari and Ben Marcus, who is also the co-founder and chairman of drone traffic management company, AirMap. With about 160 attendees, Sigari estimated that they represented over $100B of investable capital.
Beta Technologies revealed the design of its next eVTOL, dubbed “ALIA,” to attendees at the event. As Head reported on Vertical Magazine’s eVTOL.com website, “it’s a significant evolution of the company’s previous prototype, Ava-XC, with ALIA having four fixed propellers mounted above the fuselage and one dedicated pushing propeller, rather than eight pivoting prop and motor assemblies.” Beta claims that the 6,000-lb (2.7-metric ton) all-electric aircraft will reach a range of up to 215 nm (400 km) per charge.
At the event, Pipistrel Aircraft also announced that it was shifting its focus from its five-seat Model 801 air taxi for Uber Elevate to a smaller cargo eVTOL design. Head reported that “it has a tandem-wing design and a total of eight VTOL rotors arranged on either side of the main body — similar in some ways to the 801, which has eight shrouded fans mounted across two lifting surfaces attached to its fuselage. The cargo drone also has a pusher prop for cruise flight.” The drone is designed for a 660 lb (300 kg) payload and range of 161 nm (300 km). According to Head, Pipistrel plans to fly the aircraft before the end of 2020, and provide it for operations to “a known customer in Southeast Asia” in 2022.