Grace Nehls Composites World
Beta Technologies to produce, certify fixed-wing eCTOL  
March 17, 2023
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  • On March 14th, Beta Technologies (South Burlington, Vt., U.S.) announced plans to certify the CX300, a conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) model of its all-electric aircraft. This marks the company’s second all-electric aircraft offering, as it will pursue this design in parallel with its already-underway vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) Alia-250, featuring infused composite components and structures. New and existing customers have placed orders for the eCTOL aircraft, including United Therapeutics (Silver Spring, Md., U.S.), Bristow (Houston, Texas, U.S.) and Air New Zealand (Auckland). 

    This news follows years of successful flights with CTOL and VTOL test articles of the Alia aircraft. Beta says it tests two prototypes simultaneously in order to capture twice the performance data and concurrently focus on both hover and wingborne flight — eVTOLs spend more than 98% of flights in wingborne cruise. 

    According to the company, its eCTOL test article has shown reliably strong performance, hitting key milestones including: 

    Beta has designed both aircraft to fulfill essential missions for its customers, optimizing payload and range to enable short-haul and regional operations with zero operational emissions and reduced operational costs. With these advantages — as well as fast charging and a low noise profile — the company’s aircraft is tailored to meet the diverse needs of its customer base across the cargo, medical, defense and passenger sectors. 

    “We have been flying our eCTOL prototype airport-to-airport for a few years now to drive technological advancements in propulsion and systems, and now we’re seeing that there is a clear market for this product in addition to our eVTOL aircraft,” Beta’s Founder and CEO, Kyle Clark, says. “Global operators are looking for practical solutions to help meet their sustainability commitments, and after seeing the cost and performance of this prototype, our customers are eager to integrate it into their fleet. With its known certification and operational path, this aircraft represents an opportunity to get electric aviation into the market, and into the hands of our customers, as quickly as possible.” 

    Beta applied for type certification of the CX300 with the FAA last year under Part 23, and is targeting 2025 for certification and delivery. The airframe, batteries, propulsion and systems used in the CX300 will be common to the Alia-250, which is already advancing through the FAA certification process. 

    Beta continues to progress its Alia-250 eVTOL test article. Hovering on its current flight controller and algorithm began five years ago with the company’s first prototype. It has since migrated to the current Alia eVTOL test article, achieving a first hover in 2020, and envelope expanding maneuvering hover flights since. Both aircraft variants have steadily advanced along Beta’s rigorous flight test program and certification roadmap, with regular oversight and partnership from the Air Force and FAA. 

    “We continue to progress our Alia eVTOL design through certification, in harmony with the eCTOL program,” Clark adds. “The two aircraft are common in their design, allowing us to economize validation of our high-performance solutions. With the eCTOL aircraft launch we have further de-risked our path to commercialization and concurrently provide lower cost, more utility and optionality to operators. This has given us the confidence to industrialize and invest heavily in production at scale over the last year.”  

    With what is said to be its reliable and efficient operations, the CX300 will meet a variety of regional medical, cargo and passenger missions for customers. This aircraft offers a clean, cost-effective solution for fleet replacement and route expansion and, with its airport-to-airport capabilities, it will be a low operational cost, high-use aircraft that operators can integrate into their networks immediately. 

    Several global operators have placed orders for Beta’s CX300, citing plans to integrate the eCTOL into cargo and passenger network operations as part of a stepwise approach to electrifying their fleet for the future. 

    Air New Zealand, after selecting Beta as a partner in its Mission Next-Gen Aircraft program in 2022, has declared an intent to order three eCTOL aircraft, with an option for 20 more. Air New Zealand has an ambition to fly its first zero-emissions commercial demonstrator flight from 2026. 

    Bristow, a global provider of sustainable vertical flight solutions, has placed a deposit-backed order for up to 50 eCTOL aircraft. This comes in addition to its original order of five eVTOL aircraft, with an option for up to 55 more. 

    United Therapeutics has added an order for eCTOL, with plans to use Beta aircraft to transport its unlimited supply of manufactured organs for transplantation, and medical equipment for transplant. 

    Plans to certify the CX300 follow more than two years of successful test flights of BETA’s eCTOL aircraft. The Company has built strong momentum in both horizontal and vertical flight through its rigorous flight test program, reaching industry-first milestones including: 

    Flight testing program milestones 

    Beta secured what it claims to be the industry’s first Market Survey Certification from the FAA, enabling the aircraft to fly airport-to-airport through controlled airspace. 

    Beta is in the final stages of construction on its production and manufacturing assembly in South Burlington, Vermont (read “Beta Technologies secures 75-year aircraft facility lease at Burlington International Airport”). This facility, where the company plans to conduct final assembly of its all-electric aircraft, is on track to begin manufacturing of aircraft this summer.