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U.S. Air Force to install Beta’s electric aircraft charging station

By Vertical Mag | September 14, 2023

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 24 seconds.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) plans to install its first electric aircraft charging station at one of its Air Force bases this fall, and is turning to Vermont-based eVTOL developer Beta Technologies for the infrastructure.

Major Jonathan Appleby (left) and Beta test pilot Camron Guthrie in the cockpit of Beta’s Alia aircraft mid-flight. Beta Technologies Image

“We are honored that the first-ever fixed electric aircraft charger on a Department of Defense installation is a Beta charger,” said Kyle Clark, Beta’s CEO and founder. “The installation of this charger is an enabling step as the DOD looks to transition to a more sustainable fleet.”

Through the AFWERX Agility Prime Program, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) will install one of Beta’s multimodal charging infrastructure at its Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

Beta said its chargers are capable of supporting its own all-electric aircraft, other electric aircraft, as well as ground electric vehicles. The USAF will use Beta’s level 3 DC fast-charger to power AFWERX’s planned on-base experimentation of electric aircraft, including Beta’s own Alia aircraft, which is expected to be delivered to the Eglin Air Force Base this fall and begin onsite experimentation.

“Charging station installation is a critical step to unleash test and experimentation with the DOD to leverage emerging electric aviation technology as a capability for the warfighter,” said Maj. Anthony Zartman, Agility Prime’s program manager team lead.

He said two charging test sites will be set up by the end of the calendar year, marking the first multimodal charging capabilities for the Air Force.

“Further, the charging stations will provide an opportunity to explore the utility of electric vehicle fleet modernization, as well as base and flight line support equipment to improve energy use and reduce emissions,” Zartman said.

In addition to being the first DOD-owned electric aircraft charger, this site marks an expansion of Beta’s charging network into the state of Florida. The company has now activated 13 sites from Vermont to Florida to Arkansas, and has another 55 in development along the East and Gulf Coasts. 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) plans to install Beta’s electric aircraft charging station at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida this fall. Beta Technologies Image

The news also marks the next step in a long-standing partnership between Beta and the DOD, through its AFWERX Agility Prime Program. The contract, which officially launched in 2020, has seen the partners collaborate to accelerate the development and adoption of electric aviation within the U.S. military and commercial market.

Through this partnership, Beta became the first electric aircraft developer to receive an airworthiness certificate for manned flight from the military, and has also conducted the industry’s only piloted qualitative evaluation flights with test pilots from the Air Force and Army.

“The DOD, and specifically AFWERX’s Agility Prime team, have been invaluable partners to us for the past several years, offering deep insights that have helped us continue to progress our technology,” Clark said. “We look forward to using it to charge our aircraft later this year during planned on-base experimentation with the Air Force at Duke Airfield.”

The partners are expecting the charging infrastructure to be finished this fall, in time for the arrival of Beta’s aircraft.

Beta said it is continuing to progress its all-electric CTOL and VTOL aircraft toward certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), anticipating entry into service in 2025 and 2026, respectively. The company will open the doors to its full-scale aircraft production facility in South Burlington, Vermont, this fall, where it will begin manufacturing these aircraft on its production line. 

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