UPS Plans Purchase of Beta Technologies Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing Aircraft
UPS and their subsidiary UPS Flight Forward plans on purchasing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies. The aircraft will have a 1,400-pound cargo capacity, a 250-mile range and can cruise at speeds of up to 170 mph.
On Wednesday (April 7, 2021), UPS announced that together with their UPS Flight Forward subsidiary, they plan on purchasing electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies (BETA). The aircraft will takeoff and land on property at UPS facilities and will augment the company’s fleet of fixed wing aircraft to service select small and mid-size markets. BETA’s “whisper-quiet” aircraft will have a cargo capacity of 1,400 pounds, a range of 250 miles and can travel at speeds of up to 170 miles per hour, giving UPS the ability to plan a series of short routes or one long route.
In Wednesday’s announcement, UPS’ Chief Information and Engineering Officer, Juan Perez, said,
“This is all about innovation with a focus on returns for our business, our customers, and the environment. These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation.”
Also commenting on the collaboration, Beta Technologies’ Founder and CEO, Kyle Clark, added,
“We’re combining simple, elegant design and advanced technology to create a reliable aircraft with zero operational emissions that will revolutionize how cargo moves. By utilizing vertical takeoffs and landings, we can turn relatively small spaces at existing UPS facilities into a micro air feeder network without the noise or operating emissions of traditional aircraft.”
BETA’s aircraft has four fixed vertical lift propellers and one “pusher” propeller for forward flight. The aircraft can charge in one hour or less and will produce zero operational emissions. UPS has also reserved BETA’s charging station solution for seamless electric aviation system integration. Beta Technologies is designing the aircraft to eventually operate autonomously as the technologies and regulations are established. UPS Flight Forward has received the first U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 135 Standard Air Carrier Certification to operate a drone airline and is currently operating daily revenue-generating drone flights. The certification allows UPS Flight Forward to fly payloads of up to 7,500 lbs., either piloted or autonomously.
Beta Technologies’ aircraft advanced to the next phase of flight testing last month, completing an interstate flight from the company’s Plattsburgh, New York testing facility to their Burlington, Vermont headquarters. The first ten aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to UPS starting in 2024 and the company has an option to purchase up to 150 of the aircraft.