Blade, Beta Complete eVTOL Test Flight Near New York City

Beta’s ALIA-250 aircraft is aimed at supplanting traditional helicopters on many urban routes.

The BETA Technologies ALIA-250 eVTOL completed a test flight at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, New York. [Courtesy: BETA Technologies]

Blade Air Mobility Inc. and Beta Technologies said they completed a test flight of Beta's ALIA-250 eVTOL aircraft at Westchester County Airport (KHPN) in White Plains, New York.

The companies said the flight marked the first test of a piloted eVTOL in the greater New York area and is “an important step” in their plans to introduce eVTOLs into Blade’s fleets serving New York City and other short-distance routes. The company refers to the ALIA-250 as an electric vertical aircraft, or EVA.

”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 homebase of New York City,” said Blade CEO Rob Wiesenthal. “We are confident EVAs 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,” said Kyle Clark, Beta's founder and CEO.

In April 2021, Blade agreed to arrange for operators in its network to buy up to 20 of the first ALIA-250 aircraft configured for passenger service. Beta has agreed to provide and install charging infrastructure at certain locations.

The companies said the ALIA-250 flew with a conventional helicopter during part of the test before making a pass by itself to demonstrate its quieter operation. For decades New York City residents have complained about the sound of helicopters, and many say the problem has gotten worse since Blade and other on-demand helicopter services became popular. The potential success of eVTOLs depends in part on convincing critics that the new electric-powered designs will significantly cut noise pollution.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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