Beta to Offer Fixed-Wing Electric Plane With Quicker Path to Market
From: Seven Days
By Derek Brouwer
Beta Technologies plans to produce a more conventional version of its experimental electric aircraft that it can sell to customers sooner, the company announced on Tuesday.
The CX300 aircraft will use a very similar frame and battery system as Beta’s primary prototype, Alia, but without the extra rotors that allow for vertical takeoff and landing. The CX300 will fly like a fixed-wing plane that uses airstrips.
Much of the South Burlington-based company’s flight testing so far has been conducted in fixed-wing mode. It has flown more than 22,000 miles in this configuration, Beta said in a press release.
The company thinks it can get the CX300 aircraft certified and delivered to its initial customers in 2025, potentially a year earlier than Alia, for which the path to Federal Aviation Administration certification is more complicated.
A key commercial appeal of the electric aircraft that Beta and its competitors are developing has been the ability to take off vertically, which can compensate for limited range by untethering planes from airports. Beta, though, appears to also see at least a limited market for fixed-wing electric planes, as corporate customers seek to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
“This aircraft offers a clean, cost-effective solution for fleet replacement and route expansion and, with its airport-to-airport capabilities, it will be a low operational cost, high-use aircraft that operators can integrate into their networks immediately,” the company said in the release.
A Beta spokesperson declined to say how much the CX300 is expected to cost.
A few companies that have existing relationships with Beta plan to buy the CX300, including Air New Zealand, United Therapeutics, and Bristow, a company that provides services to the oil and gas industries.
“We see many opportunities to supply logistics and personnel transport with CX300 once the aircraft is certified,” Bristow’s chief transformation officer, David Stepanek, said in a statement.
The CX300 should have a somewhat longer flight range than its vertical takeoff counterpart, which Beta is aiming to list at 250 miles. Using conventional takeoff, one of Beta’s CX300 prototypes recently flew 386 miles from Jamestown, N.Y., to Plattsburgh, N.Y., the company said.
Both versions of Beta’s aircraft will be manufactured at a new production plant under construction at the Burlington International Airport. The facility is on track for completion this summer, according to the company.