Beta Technologies Ava XC (technology demonstrator)
Ava XC (technology demonstrator)
Beta Technologies, Inc.
South Burlington, Vermont, USA
Beta Technologies, founded by entrepreneur Kyle Clark in 2017, is developing and will be manufacturing an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM). The company announced in March 2023, it will also be manufacturing and selling an electric conventional takeoff and landing aircraft (eCTOL) as well. Beta is also developing the ALIA-250, an eVTOL aircraft designed for passenger transportation, the safe transport of organs and other air cargo operations. The company is one of several electric VTOL companies receiving funding from Martine Rothblatt’s United Therapeutics, to transport human organs. Beta announced in April 2022 that it had raised $375 million USD in a second round of financing, bringing its total financing to $796 million USD. As of 2023, the company has grown to 450 employees.
Beta Technologies has also created a modular rapid charging station that can be easily reconfigured for urban or rural areas. The charging station can be configured to have an elevated landing deck, pilot lounge, kitchen area, sleeping quarters, maintenance area, storage area and more.
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. Its first manned free flight took place on June 22, 2018. 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.
Beta Technologies, in less than three years, has developed a rapid recharging modular station (made from shipping containers) for eVTOL aircraft. The landing pad can be used for almost any hybrid-electric or electric VTOL aircraft including passenger VTOL aircraft, helicopters or cargo VTOL delivery drones. The stations are modular allowing different configurations to fit in areas with space limitations or allowing the station to be scalable to any size allowing more than one aircraft to land at a time. The stations are easily adaptable to both urban, suburban and rural areas.
The charging station can be configured to have an elevated landing deck, include multiple types of rooms such as a lounge for the crew, kitchen area, lodging, patios, sleeping quarters, a maintenance and repair equipment workshop, storage areas, cargo storage areas and more. Other features can include large windows, sliding doors, outdoor lights, solar panels and heating and air conditioning. Sleeping rooms can be made available for the crew whether it’s for an hour or overnight. The stations with sleep quarters reduces the added expense of ground travel and cost of expensive hotels in urban or remote locations.
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. He plans to create [air]craft used for cargo first, and then passenger craft."
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger technology demonstrator aircraft
- Capacity: 2 people
- Maximum cruise speed: 172 mph (277 km/h)
- Range: 150 miles (241 km)
- Empty weight: 4,000 lb (1,814 kg)
- Propellers: 8 propellers
- Motors: 8 electric motors
- Wing: 1 main wing, 35 feet (10.7 meters)
- Tail: T-tail
- Landing gear: Extended length fixed wheeled tricycle landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. If all propellers fail, the aircraft can land like an airplane.
- Beta Technologies website
- Beta Technologies Facebook
- Beta Technologies YouTube Channel
- Beta Technologies Instagram
- Beta Technologies LinkedIn
- Article: Beta Technologies Races to Develop Electric Aviation, Seven Days, Oct. 17, 2018
- Article: Making it in Vermont: An electric helicopter that can get to Boston in an hour, VTDIGGER, Dec. 2, 2018
- Article: Snow Can't Stop the Edward Scissorhands of Flying Cars, Wired, Jan. 10, 2019
- Video: Beta Technologies eVTOL Air Taxi Prototype, Eric Adams, Jan. 10, 2019
- Video: Beta Technologies eVTOL Air Taxi Prototype, Eric Adams, Jan 10, 2019
- Article: Beta Technologies, a Vermont Air Taxi Start-Up, Might Be About to Change the Aviation World, The Drive, Jan. 11, 2019
- Article: Electric VTOL for Organs on Demand, Vertiflite, March/April 2019
- Photo Gallery: Visit to Beta's hangar in Plattsburgh, NY, Vertical Flight Society, Apr. 1, 2019.
- Article: Beta Technologies announces deal with UPS for up to 150 eVTOL aircraft, eVTOL Magazine, Apr. 7, 2021
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