Beta Technologies Christens Electric Aircraft Production Plant 

Source: Seven Days

Beta Technologies celebrated the opening of its South Burlington manufacturing center on Monday, marking the milestone with praise from politicians and a stylish flyby outside the hangar doors.

The state’s top elected leaders joined company founder and CEO Kyle Clark, its major investors, and many of its nearly 600 employees inside the sparkling 188,500-square-foot facility at the Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport.

“What you guys are in,” Clark told the crowd, his voice echoing across the capacious hangar, “is the first [large-] scale production facility for electric aircraft.”

The South Burlington company is at the forefront of a global push to develop commercially viable electric planes that can take off and land vertically — like helicopters — and fly like jets. Though the much-hyped market for such planes remains uncertain, analysts consider Beta one of the nascent industry’s most promising startups. Since its founding in 2017, Beta has raised more than $700 million from investors, received valuations exceeding $1 billion and flown more than 26,000 miles on its prototype, dubbed Alia.

The company would use the craft to transport people and cargo. One of its more significant customers is UPS.

Beta says the production plant will be able to build as many as 300 aircraft per year once Alia is certified for commercial flight, a process the company hopes to complete by 2027. In the meantime, the company will use the plant to produce test aircraft needed to clear the substantial regulatory hurdles ahead.

The plant features eco-friendly materials and designs, including geothermal and solar energy systems. A skylight runs the length of the hangar, and a far wall includes interior lights that adjust in intensity according to the time of day. A Pride flag hangs next to the American flag and Vermont state flag, while exterior signage informs visitors that they are not welcome if they show signs of flu-like illness or bigotry.

“We’re going to make manufacturing sexy again,” Clark said.

Read the full article in Seven Days.

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