They call it "The Battery That Flies."
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
By Robert Smith
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This new startup likens its invention to the Wright Brothers Flying Machine and the first Jet engine. And maybe it IS that revolutionary. The New York Times calls it “The Battery That Flies.” And for good reason. It uses no jet fuel, has no carbon footprint, takes off and lands without runways, recharges like a drone and was inspired by the Arctic Tern, considered one of the most aerodynamically efficient birds in the world.
Manufactured by Burlington, VT-based Beta Technologies, the ALIA-250 is now in flight testing. But it’s not the product of an aerospace skunk works or a military think tank. Its “fathers” are Martine Rothblatt, the entrepreneur behind Sirius XM radio, and Kyle Clarke an Ivy League-trained engineer and former pro hockey player.
Their electric aviation startup is shooting for FAA certification to transform the short-range cargo delivery market, from transporting last mile packages and cargo, to transporting human organs for patients in duress. It’s current prototype can travel up to 250 miles at speeds of 170 miles per hour, carrying 1,400 pounds of cargo – or five people, plus a pilot. The model 250 needs less than an hour to charge and can fly 2 hours using three of its five-possible battery packs.
Recently the founders raised raised $350 Million in funding. Already United Parcel Service has inked an deal to buy 10 planes to speed up Express B2B delivery in small markets. The planes could enable UPS to fly from building to building, customer to customer, without depending on airports. As for a charging network, the Aria is working on that too, using technology that for planes and electric delivery vehicles.