ALIA electric vertical aircraft could be the future of flight

ALIA Electric Aircraft VTOL BETA Technologies
ALIA electric aircraft takes inspiration from the Arctic Tern. Images © BETA Technologies

Since the first commercial flight took off on January 1st, 1914, aviation has changed how we live today. Transforming global trade and enabling long-distance travel, flight has done a lot of good for all of us. However, not all of it is good. ALIA by BETA Technologies aims to solve one problem in particular: the environment. In this article, you’ll learn about how an all-electric aircraft has the potential to change the world of flight.

What is ALIA by BETA Technologies?

Jet fuel and other kinds of fossil fuels power most aircraft. However, electric batteries power ALIA by BETA Technologies. Because of this, the aircraft produces zero emissions.

A bird called the Arctic Tern inspired ALIA. The animal sets the record for its long migrations. BETA Technologies wants electric aircraft to travel the entire world, and they share this same vision for their electric aircraft. After producing a rough sketch, engineers went to work creating the aircraft with efficient principles in mind.

As an electric vertical aircraft, it can take off like a helicopter and fly forward like an airplane with its powerful propellers. In the aviation world, an aircraft that can take off like a helicopter is called a VTOL, or Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicle.

Electric power, advantages and challenges

Electric batteries, likely lithium-ion, power ALIA. For instance, electric cars, cell phones, laptops, and personal helicopters like CopterPack use lithium-ion batteries. The vehicle recharges in 50 minutes, a great feat given that it has a MTOW of 6,999 pounds and a payload capacity of 1,400 pounds.

The vehicle has short range compared to traditional aircraft. Its maximum range is 250 nautical miles. This is a major limitation that needs to be overcome before electric aircraft can hit mainstream markets. However, it’s a great first step into the future.

Innovation and Partnerships

One of the most interesting features of ALIA is that it’s ten times quieter than most helicopters. The batteries are very heavy, making its large wings very useful for gaining more lift. In addition, BETA Technologies wants to reduce as much risk as possible.

The aircraft has also caught the attention of various partners. United Parcel Service (UPS) reserved 150 units of the aircraft, while Blade Urban Mobility ordered five. United Therapeutics is another partner that will use the aircraft for rapid organ transport.

Even the US Air Force is keeping their eye on the program. USAF and BETA Technologies work together on the Agility Prime Program. In this program, BETA’s aircraft gained approval for use of ALIA as a manned electric aircraft.

The future of electric aircraft

The technology to replace all fossil fuel-aircraft with electric batteries isn’t quite there yet. Although ALIA by BETA Technologies is paving the way forward, more work needs to be done to make these batteries lighter and more efficient. After that, electric aircraft will be able to travel faster, higher, and farther than ever before. For now, electric aircraft like this one continue to be a promising look into the future.