From May 23 to May 30, an electric aircraft created by Beta Technologies took off from Plattsburgh International Airport in eastern New York and traveled all the way to Bentonville, Arkansas. With a few stops in between, the vehicle completed a journey of 1,403 miles, according to PopSci.
From taxis to longer journeys
The event marked a change in how electric aircraft are viewed, going from taxis that only take short trips to vehicles tasked with longer journeys.
“I think that with this type of flight, at a very high level, we change the image of what electric aviation is,” Beta CEO Kyle Clark told PopSci. “It’s not an aircraft that’s hopping within a city; it’s not flying test flights around a range, unmanned; it’s you put a couple pilots in it, you put some cargo in it, and you go halfway across the country.”
A thorough charging network
But what makes the craft called Alia so special? Well, for starters, it has an impressive charging network.
"Beta’s thoughtfully designed network of charging systems provides the foundation for electric transportation. Designed to be multimodal, our chargers supply the power needed to safely, quickly, and efficiently charge electric vehicles both on the ground and in the air – seamlessly integrating with existing transportation infrastructure in any environment. With nearly 60 sites online or in progress, we are paving the way for a network of chargers ready to support new and existing modes of electric transportation," says Beta's website.
The firm adds that its customizable charging systems can be deployed as standalone installations or integrated into distribution centers. With the potential to tap into existing onsite solar power and energy storage, the systems are sustainable, reliable, and purpose-built to support a multimodal electric transportation system.
"From fleet charging and private hangars to individual fast-charging, we have a solution that fits every operator," adds Beta on their website.
A three-year project
Alia has been three years into the making, says Beta. "Alia began as a simple sketch, designed on basic principles of engineering to fly in the most efficient manner possible. Its ability to take off and land vertically and then transition to long-range flight is a defining characteristic," adds the firm on its site.
Alia isn't the first electric aircraft to hold the potential for longer journeys. In November 2021, Wright Electric introduced the concept of a 100-seat electric plane whose mission is to eliminate all emissions from flights under 800 miles (1287 km). The plane is still in production, but it does create some competition for Beta.
In addition, currently, over 70 aviation companies are planning the first flight of electric air vehicles by 2024. This means that the future of aviation could be green and clean, which is something to rejoice about!