Global helicopter operator Bristow Group (NYSE: VTOL) announced Tuesday it has placed a firm order for five Alia electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, still under development by Vermont-based Beta Technologies.
The deal includes an option to buy an additional 50 Alia eVTOLs, designed to carry payloads up to 1,400 pounds or five passengers and a pilot.
“We designed Alia with reliability, efficiency, and the highest-value cargo in mind, all of which are central to the types of critical missions Bristow carries out on a global stage,” said Kyle Clark, Beta founder and CEO. “Over the past few months, we’ve made strides with our flight test program, proving the aircraft is capable of performing in conditions it will see in service. We are gratified by Bristow’s confidence in our continued progress, and we look forward to partnering to provide a safe and sustainable system to transform regional transport
First revealed in 2020, Alia is Beta’s second-generation eVTOL test article. It’s a single-prop pusher with a 50-foot wing and V-tail. The aircraft is designed to achieve vertical lift during takeoff and landing from four fixed rotors. Alia is being developed for multiple advanced air mobility (AAM) roles, including cargo, medical transport, and passenger transportation. Beta says the aircraft will be capable of carrying a pilot and cargo—or four passengers—as far as 250 nm on a single charge. Maximum takeoff weight (MTOW): 6,999 pounds.
Beta is one of a handful of eVTOL startups currently flight testing entirely new electric aircraft designs, aimed at providing effective and reliable zero-emission transportation.
“This order firmly positions Bristow as an early adopter and leader in pragmatically developing AAM operations and ushering in a new era in vertical lift solutions,” said Dave Stepanek, Bristow executive vice president and chief transformation officer. “By leveraging our 70-plus years of expertise as a leader in vertical lift, we plan to use the Beta Alia to safely and reliably move passengers and time-sensitive cargo as part of the development of new regional mobility networks in the U.S. and other strategic locations.”
Although it doesn’t expect to achieve FAA aircraft type certification for Alia until 2024, Beta has already announced purchase agreements with UPS Flight Forward (NYSE:UPS) and Blade Urban Air Mobility (NASDAQ:BLDE).