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The First Ever All-Electric International Flight

A first for aircraft configured to fly either passengers or cargo.

The ALIA CX300 during a test flight. (Photo: BETA TECHNOLOGIES)

On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, a BETA Technologies CX300 electric aircraft made its first international flight from Plattsburgh, N.Y., to Montreal, Quebec, marking the first time that a 100% electrically powered aircraft configured to carry passengers or cargo, had flown across an international border.

BETA Technologies, an electric aircraft company founded in 2017 by engineer and entrepreneur Kyle Clark, is developing and manufacturing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) called ALIA-250 and electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) aircraft called the CX300.

This eCTOL version of the ALIA aircraft has already flown extensively during the R&D and testing phases in the United States. Still, this time, it demonstrates that electric aircraft can fly longer distances and cross international borders. This opens the possibility of using electric aircraft for broader applications, such as passenger travel, cargo transport, and emergency services.

This flight is a significant milestone for electric aviation and a testament to the dedication of the engineers and technicians at BETA Technologies. They have developed a truly innovative and groundbreaking aircraft that has the potential to revolutionize the aviation industry. As of 2023, the company has grown to 450 employees.

According to BETA’s website and CEO Kyle Clark, they designed the ALIA platform by looking at migratory birds of the Arctic. The aircraft are created using the first physics principles to fly in the safest, most efficient way possible. They utilize BETA’s patented electric propulsion systems, produce zero operational emissions, and carry advanced energy-dense batteries. The ALIA has a 50-foot wingspan and will carry up to five people and a pilot at a cruising speed of about 75 mph with a range of less than 250 nautical miles.

The ALIA platform variants comparison. (Image: BETA TECHNOLOGIES)

Over the years, BETA Technologies has also created a modular rapid charging station that can be easily reconfigured for urban or rural areas. BETA’s chargers can charge their aircraft in about 30 – 50 minutes.

Pilot Chris Caputo piloted the flight to Montreal and described the aircraft as intuitive, with excellent visibility, acoustics, and quietness. The ALIA eCTOL version is about ten times quieter than a fuel-burning aircraft.

The CX300 looks similar to BETA’s air taxi variant, ALIA-250, but it will fly using lift from its wings, not from lifting props. BETA believes the CX300 has a more straightforward path to certification and commercialization than its eVTOL air taxi. This is because conventional aircraft can operate from existing airports and use existing air traffic control systems.

The ALIA-250 will be capable of carrying passengers (ALIA-250) or cargo (ALIA-250c). This aircraft version was already tested with UPS in the United Arab Emirates, thanks to a license granted by the UAE government to transfer freight and logistics for customers. BETA hopes to have the CX300 certificated by the FAA and begin deliveries in 2025, while the VTOL variant is also vying for certification by 2026.

Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo
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  • Vincenzo Claudio Piscopo

    Vincenzo graduated in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering with an aeronautical curriculum, focusing his thesis on Human Factors in aircraft maintenance. In 2022 he pursued his master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Palermo, Italy. He combines his journalistic activities with his work as a Reliability Engineer at Zetalab.

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