US-based air mobility platform Blade Air Mobility and Beta Technologies, an electric aerospace company developing eVTOL aircraft and supporting charging infrastructure, have successfully completed an historic test flight of Beta's Alia-250 at the Westchester County airport in White Plains, New York. The flight marks the first test of a piloted eVTOL aircraft in the greater New York City area and is a significant milestone in the companies' continued partnership to bring safe, quiet and sustainable air transportation to commuter and commercial customers.
"This is a historic moment for Blade, New York and the urban air mobility industry," says Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal. "This demonstration is a big milestone in our transition from helicopters to electric vertical aircraft, and we are pleased that our partners at Beta have designed the right aircraft with the requisite range, capacity and noise profile for use in our key markets, including our home base of New York City. We are confident eVTOLs will be a game changer both for our company and New York City's transportation system once certified by the FAA."
"Blade is flying passengers in key urban markets all over the world, and this flight is another step toward delivering our electric aircraft to support those operations,” adds Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark. “We continue to progress our aircraft, flying real life missions and gaining proficiency in the national airspace. We were glad to be able to fly here from our flight test facility in Plattsburgh to work with Blade to operationalise our partnership."
The Alia-250 aircraft is powered by an all-electric propulsion system with vertical take off and landing capability and a noise profile that is 1/10th the sound decibel level of conventional helicopters, making it ideal for use in urban areas. The aircraft can fly up to six people and features a sleek and modern design with a range of features to ensure the highest levels of safety and comfort.
During the test flight, the Alia-250 flew alongside a conventional helicopter before pulling away for a second pass above the airport to highlight the dramatic noise reduction.
In April 2021, Blade agreed to facilitate the purchase of up to 20 of Beta's first passenger-configured Alia-250 aircraft by its network of operators. Blade intends to deploy these initial aircraft on routes between its network of dedicated terminals in the US. Beta has also agreed to provide and install charging infrastructure at certain key locations.
Over the past three years, Beta has demonstrated reliably strong performance with its two full scale prototype aircraft, accomplishing significant milestones toward certification and commercialisation. Beta also had test pilots from the US Air Force and Army fly the Alia-250 in full-pattern evaluations in March 2022 and July 2022, respectively, marking the branches' first ever flight of an electric vertical aircraft and the industry's first manned qualitative evaluations. Beta has also partnered with the FAA and the National Institute for Aviation Research to conduct the first ever 50 foot drop tests of its full scale battery packs, successfully completing the test and advancing the industry's path to safety standards and certification.