Beta Alia-250 Prototype Flies Cross Country to Arkansas
By Kenneth I. Swartz
Note: This is an updated version of a story that was first published on May 24.
On May 30, the Beta Technologies flew its prototype Alia-250 eVTOL aircraft (N250UT) landed at Bentonville Municipal Airport, Arkansas after a record two-part cross country flight.
On May 23–24, the Alia-250 made a 705 mile (1,135 km) cross country from Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) to Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (SGH) in Ohio after recharging stops at Griffiss International Airport (RME) and Chautauqua County/Dunkirk Airport (DKK) in New York and Akron-Canton Regional Airport (CAK) in Ohio.
This was one of the longest cross-country flights performed by an electric aircraft of any kind in North America — since the cross-country journey of the Solar Impulse in 2016 — and highlights the technical maturity of Alia-250 flying in electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) configuration.
Then on May 28, the aircraft departed Springfield heading southwest across Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri over three days to Bentonville.
Springfield-Beckley Airport is where the US Air Force Research Lab broke ground an advanced urban air mobility technology simulator facility in December 2020 to support AFWERX’s Agility Prime eVTOL aircraft initiative.
Beta has installed an Alia-250 flight simulator at the Air Force facility and another in Washington, DC, to support its Agility Prime contract.
Bentonville is the headquarters for Walmart founded by the Walton family and Bentonville Municipal Airport is the home of Game Composites, a composite aircraft manufacturer founded in 2013 by Steuart Walton and aerobatic champion Philipp Steinbach. The company produces the GB1 GameBird aerobatic aircraft which achieved FAA certification in May 2019.
On Sept. 7–9, 2018, Steuart Walton and VFS members UP.Partners founders Ben Marcus and Cyrus Sigari hosted the first Bentonville UP invite-only summit on the eVTOL industry. Other UP events have taken place in subsequent years, with the next UP.Summit being held in Bentonville this month, June 6-8.
This is the latest in a series of cross-country flights for the Alia-250 which first flew as a conventional fixed-wing aircraft at Plattsburgh International Airport (PBG) in upstate New York in July 2021 after being flown across Lake Champlain by Sikorsky S-61N helicopter from the Beta hangar and headquarters at Burlington International Airport (BTV).
In mid-March 2021, the aircraft made its first multi-airport flight when it flew under its own power back to Burlington with flight tests confined to the Burlington-Plattsburg area.
Then, on April 15, 2022, the prototype flew to Lebanon Municipal Airport (LEB) and Manchester Boston Regional Airport (MHT) in New Hampshire (see Beta Alia 250 Flies to New Hampshire, eVTOL.news, April 18)
Since then, the prototype made a record-setting 2:09-hour flight between Rutland-South Vermont Regional Airport (RUT) and Plattsburg on May 20, prior to departing for Griffiss Airport in Rome, New York on Monday, May 23.
The Plattsburg-Griffiss flight took 1:16 hours covering 166 miles, the Griffiss-Chautauqua County/Dunkirk flight 1:47 hours covering 211 miles (340 km), and the Chautauqua County/Dunkirk-Akron-Canton flight 1:21 hours covering 169 miles (272 km), and the Akron-Springfield flight 1:22 hours covering 159 miles (256 km), according to the FlightAware aircraft tracking site.
The flight from Springfield to Bentonville was made in four legs. The Springfield-Monroe Country Airport, (BMG) in Bloomington, Indiana flight took 1:31 hours covering 167 miles (269 km), the Bloomington-Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois Airport (MWA) in Marion took 1:29 hours covering 166 miles (267 km), the Marion-West Plains Regional Airport (UNO) in Missouri flight took 1:34 hours covering 171 miles (276 km), and the final leg to Bentonville took 1:26 hours and covered 146 miles (235 km).
All total, the flight from Plattsburgh to Bentonville covered 1,355 miles (2,181 km).
In late 2020, Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark announced the company had already begin establishing charging infrastructure to facilitate cross country flights of the Alia-250 between Plattsburg and Springfield-Beckley Airport as part of its initial flight test contract with AFWERX.
Beta’s elected to fly the Alia-250 as a conventional fixed-wing aircraft before commencing the vertical flight and transition portion of the flight test program, which will largely fall to the second Alia-250 prototype (N251UT) which is being outfitted with four lift propellers for tethered flights.
Beta has not revealed exactly when it expects the Alia-250 to make its first transition between vertical and horizontal flight, but the company expects the first aircraft to enter organ transfer and cargo service in 2024.
Beta’s original Ava XC technology demonstrator, which made its first flight in 2018, was first flown in the hover mode, but later took off horizontally from the runway.
FlightAware.com had the following tracks for the Beta Alia-250 (N250UT).
Credit: The map of Alia's route was created with Great Circle Mapper, a free program for mapping routes and flights.