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Vermont-based eVTOL developer Beta Technologies on Wednesday completed the longest crewed test flight of its Alia aircraft yet, clocking in at 205 miles (330 kilometers), according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.
The all-electric Alia was operating in airplane mode on only three of its five available battery packs, according to a source familiar with the testing. This positions Beta well for achieving its target range of 250 nautical miles (around 460 km) for flights involving vertical take-offs and landings, which are the most energy-intensive phases of flight.
While Beta has yet to conduct extensive free flight testing of Alia in VTOL mode, the company has been conducting numerous flights in the aircraft’s conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) configuration. Since March of this year, that has included flight testing out of Beta’s headquarters in Burlington, Vermont, after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permitted the aircraft to fly beyond its primary test facility in Plattsburgh, New York. Although Alia’s first multi-airport flight was only 18 miles (29 km), the FAA’s approval to fly from Plattsburgh to Burlington represented a significant vote of confidence in the experimental aircraft.
According to FlightAware, the maximum speed reached during Wednesday’s 2-hour, 2-minute flight out of the Burlington Airport was 122 mph (196 km/h). Beta is ultimately targeting a cruising speed of 170 mph (270 km/h) for Alia. The maximum altitude reached during this flight was just over 3,000 feet, although the aircraft has previously flown as high as 8,000 feet.