Behind the scenes with Beta Technologies’ Alia eVTOL

Contributing editor Eric Adams has spent a lot of time with the Beta Technologies team, based in Burlington, Vermont, as the company has quietly worked on its eVTOL aircraft prototypes.

Beta Technologies Alia
Beta Technologies' Alia-250 eVTOL is currently making manned flight tests. Go behind the scenes on the aircraft's design and performance with company founder Kyle Clark. Eric Adams Photo

Alia, the company's second prototype to undergo manned flight testing, recently flew from Plattsburgh, New York, back to Burlington, completing a key milestone on Beta's path to proving out the aircraft's full flight envelope.

In addition to capturing beautiful footage of Alia in flight, Adams interviewed Kyle Clark, founder of Beta and the company's chief test pilot. Clark explained many of the key design decisions the team has made that result in an eVTOL aircraft that the company is in the process of demonstrating can achieve safe, stable flight up to 250 miles, useful payload for cargo and passenger purposes, and rapid charging capability.

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  1. I’m reminded of a conversation with a friend who owns a crop duster operation in Wisconsin – when asked if he still crop dusts, he responded that he did until a new pilot when asked how he came to apply for the job, said ‘My former boss used to run the company and crop dust like you do, but got killed, so here I am.’ He decided letting the pilots focus on flying while he ran the company was a wise decision..

  2. Competent management, engineering, fabrication, and test staff are readily hired. If you can’t trust them to do their jobs well, you should never have hired them. They run the day to day of the company, carrying on its mission while achieving its goals and milestones on schedule and within budget, while the company founder focuses on his passion and why he founded the company in the first place: flying. Only one in a thousand engineers make good managers and the best way to ruin a perfectly good engineer is to promote him into management. I’m sure the ratio is even higher for crop dusters and aviators in general…
    Kyle’s on the right track here: he’s doing everything right by learning a lot from what he’s done wrong; doing what he’s talented at and loves to do, while empowering his staff to do what they’re talented at. There are no flaws in this approach.

    1. @Andy: At risk of being snide, I guess I wonder how you can tell there are no flaws in his approach. It seems like a minefield of problems: From my admittedly very limited knowledge and calls, it seems like battery specific energy density is crucial, to meet the specs anyway, and it seems like Beta needs about twice the energy density, like 400Wh/kg, while from what I read, 200Wh/kg is typical now fr good Li-ion, and that’s at room temperature; worse in the cold air of winter or altitude.
      I’m guessing you must have inside knowledge- can you share? What batteries? What is the L/D in EVTol and CTOL configurations? Thx

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