The US Army has expanded its interest in the advanced air mobility sector through a new contract with Vermont-based Aerospace eVTOL manufacturer Beta Technologies.
Under the arrangement Army engineers will participate in flight testing of Beta’s Alia 250 “to evaluate mission applicability, including measures of range, altitude, endurance, and payload limits before testing specific cargo and logistics missions.”
“This partnership with the Army marks another important step in the military’s commitment to advancing and adopting sustainable electric aviation solutions,” said Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark. “We’re gratified by the continued support of the sector, and this allows us to accelerate our development of Alia as an incredibly safe and reliable logistics aircraft for both military and civil applications.”
Beta’s flight-test program has previously been supported by the US Air Force, which last year issued military airworthiness approval for the aircraft and provided funding under an earlier contract as part of its Agility Prime program. Under this programme Beta conducted multiple flights between its headquarters at Burlington International Airport in Vermont and nearby Plattsburg in New York. The longest flight to date with the all-electric aircraft, which uses fixed-pitch propellers, was just over 330km and it has cruised at altitudes of 2,500m.
Will Roper, former US assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, was instrumental in establishing the Agility Prime program. He has joined Beta’s board of directors and is seeking to support efforts to exploit the potential for eVTOL aircraft for use in military missions, mainly through small business technology transfer contracts.
US Air Force’s chief of staff, General Charles Brown, recently praised the program for expediting the development of technology. “It has marked a real cultural shift in how public and private sectors collaborate, so we work very closely together rather than just pushing a product or technology back and forth over a fence until it works,” he commented.