Beta Technologies lands orders for fixed-wing electric aircraft
WASHINGTON, March 14 (Reuters) - Beta Technologies is pursuing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for a fixed-wing electric airplane after receiving orders from three customers, the company announced Tuesday.
The privately-held, Vermont-based startup sees certification of the CX 300 – a conventional takeoff and landing version of its Alia 250 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft - as a path to introduce an electric aircraft into U.S. airspace under existing regulations, Chief Executive Kyle Clark told Reuters.
"It's a step-by-step pragmatic approach," Clark said. "We can deal in one step with the introduction of electric propulsion, and then in the next step, the introduction of vertical capabilities, and then the next step, the introduction of passenger service."
Bristow Group, a helicopter service provider that has previously ordered eVTOL aircraft from Beta, has placed an order for up to 50 CX 300 electric planes, Beta said. United Therapeutics placed an order for an unspecified quantity of CX 300s, with plans to use them to transit medical equipment and transplantable organs.
Air New Zealand has also declared an intent to order three CX 300s, with an option for 20 more.
As the air transport industry works to lower carbon emissions, electric "air taxis" are seen as a potential gamechanger that would allow airlines and other companies to shuttle people and goods by air over short distances.
Late last year, the FAA issued airworthiness criteria for Joby Aviation and Archer Aviation, two of Beta's competitors in the eVTOL space. Joby has said it plans to start commercial air taxi services in 2025 after receiving FAA certification.
Clark believes the conventional CX 300 provides "an easier path to certification" because it can be certified under the FAA's existing rules for airplanes. The company applied for certification in November, with a target date of 2025.
If successful, Beta can reuse much of the data to certify its eVTOL Alia aircraft, which uses the same airframe, batteries and propulsion system, Clark said.
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