Apparently, Amazon and its Climate Pledge Fund ❤ electric aircraft — or more specifically the electric aircraft built by the upstart, Vermont-based aircraft manufacturer, BETA Technologies.
Beta Technologies electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft. Image Credit:Beta Technologies
The South Burlington-based company joins a flock of would-be fliers commercializing electric vertical take-off and landing that are being borne aloft by hundreds of millions of dollars in financing.
Amazon and new investor Fidelity Management & Research are investing $368 million into BETA’s brand of flying vehicles. It’s a big number, but shows how in-demand these technologies are.
Earlier this year, Joby Aviation flew into public markets through a special purpose acquisition vehicle that valued the company at over $6.6 billion.
That deal and the whopping investment in BETA show how investors are valuing companies on a path to decarbonizing the aviation business.
BETA said it would use the money to accelerate the development of its ALIA aircraft and other vehicles in its production pipeline.
The company recently received airworthiness approval for a manned aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and is now partnering with businesses like United Therapeutics, UPS, the U.S. Air Force, and Blade for medical delivery, logistics, government services, and consumer passenger travel, the company said.
The company’s ALIA aircraft has garnered attention thanks to its ability to carry 1,500 pounds of cargo or up to six people. That carrying capacity can go a long way toward decarbonizing a pretty good chunk of the logistics business and create hub and spoke models for new kinds of community.
BETA’s looking beyond electrifying flight with the new round, as the company’s chief executive officer, Kyle Clark said, “These funds allow us to continue hiring the best talent, meet aggressive certification milestones, ramp up production of ALIA, and accelerate the rollout of an extensive high-speed universal charging infrastructure.”
To date, UPS announced an order of 150 aircraft and charging stations; Blade Urban Air Mobility ordered five aircraft with the option to boost that number by 20 starting in 2024.
And BETA’s manned electric aircraft have drawn the attention of the USAF for its Agility Prime Program, while United Therapeutics is using the vehicles to transport synthetic organs for human transplant, the company said.
Right now, BETA’s been flight testing from its Plattsburgh, NY test facility to the Burlington International Airport in South Burlington, Vt. In March, the company flew its first interstate flights between the two airports.
BETA touts not only being better for the environment, but also being quieter coming in at a 10 times noise reduction to helicopters, all while reaching speeds of up to 250 nautical miles on a single charge.