Beta Technologies, developer of an integrated electric aviation ecosystem, has raised $368 million in a private round of funding that was meaningfully oversubscribed and led by Fidelity Management & Research Company. These funds will support continued development of an integrated system for electric vertical aviation (EVA), which will reshape how people and cargo move while reducing the environmental impact of aviation.
At the heart of this system is the Alia, Beta's electric vertical aircraft, which can carry 1,500 pounds of cargo or up to six people. Beta's team of aerospace engineers is serving key aviation market segments including logistics with UPS, medical with United Therapeutics, government with the United States Air Force, and passenger travel with Blade Urban Air Mobility.
The Series A funding round was led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, and joined by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund as well as new and returning investors. Proceeds will be used by Beta to continue refinement of its electric propulsion systems and controls, as well as the construction of manufacturing facilities, while the company advances toward FAA certification of the Alia.
“We're gratified by the confidence this diverse group of investors has placed in our team as we continue on our mission to transform how people and goods move about the world,” says Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark. “These funds allow us to continue hiring the best talent, meet aggressive certification milestones, ramp up production of the Alia and accelerate the rollout of an extensive high-speed universal charging infrastructure.”
VP and head of worldwide sustainability at Amazon Kara Hurst adds: “We support Beta Technologies' mission to reshape air transportation through zero-emission aviation and are proud to invest in it through Amazon's $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund. The development of sustainable and decarbonising technologies will help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the planet for future generations.”
This funding news follows recent announcements regarding several new partnerships. “Each of our current and future customers, whether they are moving people, medicine or goods, need the same vital things from a certified commercial aircraft: safety, reliability and sustainability,” continues Clark. “We are pleased that the aircraft we're building can service these needs across so many applications.”
UPS announced its partnership with Beta last month, reserving the right to order 150 of Beta's aircraft and charging stations to enhance its air service for small and mid-sized markets and create a foundational solution to reduce fleet emissions.
Last month, Blade Urban Air Mobility became Beta's first passenger service customer, ordering five Alia aircraft to be delivered in 2024 and an option for up to 20 more. Blade will use these aircraft for a diverse set of mission profiles, from five-minute airport transfers to longer distance commuter routes.
The United States Air Force will continue to partner with Beta on the Agility Prime Program, wherein the Alia has secured the first eVTOL airworthiness approval for a manned electric aircraft.
United Therapeutics will use Beta aircraft as air taxis to transport its synthetic organs for human transplant.
The additional funds will allow Beta to continue building out technological capabilities to best support and serve its diverse customer needs across commercial, cargo, and defence applications. Further funding will be allocated to accelerate production and manufacturing of Beta's aircraft and the rollout of charging infrastructure, currently on track for a 2024 delivery.
United Therapeutics CEO Martine Rothblatt says: “We're delighted to welcome new investors to Beta. In the world of medical transport, it's important that we create the most reliable and sustainable system for mobility in all weather conditions. This new funding will accelerate Beta's development. Electric powered aviation is the future of on-demand organ transportation, and with the Alia aircraft and charging network, that future is closer than we think.”
In March, Beta advanced to the next phase of flight testing, completing an interstate flight with the Alia from its Plattsburgh, New York home airport test facility to the company's headquarters on the grounds of Burlington International Airport in South Burlington, Vermont. In the same week the Alia flew its first interstate flight, the aircraft set a new Beta record for endurance, range and altitude.
In April, Alia received the first-ever airworthiness approval from the US Air Force for a manned eVTOL flight.
Beta's Alia aircraft, which will be capable of flying 250 nm on a single charge and carrying six people, or a pilot and 1,500 pounds, includes a novel combination of elements that create a smooth and quiet flying experience. In addition to being more than 10 times quieter than a helicopter and much quieter than cars on a highway, the Alia produces zero operational emissions. The large wings, clean design and simple propulsion system are based on first principle engineering. The company philosophy is to reduce risk in certifying its first commercial aircraft through simplification.
In other news today, Beta announced it has initiated the permitting process to expand its footprint in Vermont with a new facility to be built on unused land at Burlington International airport. The project, which when completed will include office space, research and development, and manufacturing space, is expected to create hundreds of new jobs in the coming years. These well-paid positions in construction, engineering, design, mechanical and manufacturing roles will continue to deliver on Beta's commitment to Vermont and its economy.