BETA's Alia begins deployment with U.S. Air Force


BETA Technologies has landed its all-electric aircraft at Duke Field, Florida to begin a contracted deployment period with the US Air Force (USAF).

BETA’s ALIA aircraft, along with its core flight test team, will remain at Duke Field for several months to work with the USAF’s 413th Squadron to conduct hands-on training and explore use cases including critical resupply, cargo delivery and personnel transport.

Alia was delivered to Duke Field, a subsidiary of Eglin Air Force Base, via a series of flight down the US east coast. The delivery marks BETA’s first of an aircraft to a contracted partner and the Air Force’s receipt of its first manned aircraft from the OEM.

Flights were piloted by various BETA test pilots, including: Chris Caputo, a former USAF fighter pilot that operated a-10s, Delta Airlines commercial pilot, and CFI; Nate Moyer, a professional flight test pilot and USAF pilot who has operated a variety of aircraft, including F-16s and C-17s; Josh Myslik, a commercial pilot and graduate of the National Test Pilot School; Cody Olsen, a commercial pilot; and Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO, a multi-rated commercial pilot and CFI.

“For the past several years, AFWERX has provided critical input and support to the BETA programmes,” said Kyle Clark, BETA’s Founder and CEO. “Deploying ALIA for experimentation and training at Duke Field is the natural next step in our partnership. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Air Force over the next few months as we work together to assess how the economic, sustainability, and energy independence benefits of electric aviation can serve our military.”

Subject matter experts captured gigabytes of data from the more than 12 hour-plus-long series of flights conducted down the east coast. BETA was also able to charge the aircraft at several of its own charging stations, including one of its newest sites, located in Marshfield, Massachusetts. This is one of 14 BETA chargers online today, with more than 60 additional sites in development or construction.

BETA has also delivered a mobile simulator to Duke Field to train USAF pilots prior to experimentation with the full-size, piloted aircraft. In September, the firm also installed a Level 3 DC fast-charger (350kW) — the first-ever electric aircraft charging station at a US DoD installation.

Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX director, said: “The Department of the Air Force is constantly searching for the next generation of technology to make our warfighters safer and more efficient. As agile innovators, we believe that partnering with American businesses is the key to this goal for delivering disruptive air capabilities.” 

The arrival marks another step in a long-standing partnership between BETA and the US DoD, through its AFWERX Agility Prime Program. The work, which officially kicked off in 2020, has seen BETA became the first electric aircraft developer to receive an airworthiness certificate for manned flight from the military. It has also conducted the industry’s only manned qualitative evaluation flights with test pilots from the Air Force and Army.

Maj. Riley Livermore, 413th Flight Test Squadron flight commander, said: “It’s an exciting day to see BETA’s ALIA electric aircraft arrive to Duke Field. As the Air Force’s rotary wing test squadron, we’ll be responsible for coordinating daily flight operations to include range scheduling and logistics support. Then we’ll write a report following the conclusion of the test deployment to report our findings with AFWERX leadership.”

  
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