Through its UPS Flight Forward subsidiary, UPS plans to purchase electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Beta Technologies (BETA) as part of its innovation-driven strategy to identify new ways to help small businesses with sustainable solutions.
BETA’s ALIA-250 is the result of 3 years of design and development. ALIA takes inspiration from the Arctic tern. Terns migrate further than any other bird, visiting every ocean and the vicinity of every continent on earth. ALIA began as a simple sketch, designed on basic principles of engineering to fly in the most efficient manner possible. Its ability to take off and land vertically and then transition to long-range flight is a defining characteristic.
Air-cooled and environmentally sealed battery blocks provide the base of the propulsion system. The air-cooled motors are designed to provide high torque density and redundancy while maximizing efficiency. Designed and manufactured in-house, the lift and pusher motors are the cornerstone of the ability to fly long distances economically.
Dual inverters are designed with 3 lines of communication with the system and built with redundancy in case of failure.
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.
—Juan Perez, UPS chief information and engineering officer
With the capability to take off and land directly on UPS property, eVTOL aircraft are suited for moving smaller loads that would otherwise fly to and from airports on small feeder aircraft or take even longer by ground.
UPS Flight Forward is scheduled to take delivery of its first ten BETA eVTOL aircraft beginning in 2024, with the option to purchase up to 150. The vehicle has a 1,400-pound cargo capacity, a range of 250 miles and zero operating emissions.
UPS has reserved BETA’s recharging station for safe and rapid charging of the aircraft in under one hour to facilitate faster cargo loading and unloading. The charging station also offers the aircraft’s batteries a second life. After the batteries’ first lifecycle in the aircraft is over, they can be fitted to the charging station to recharge the aircraft’s onboard batteries as well as UPS’s fleet of electric ground vehicles.
UPS has more than 12,000 alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles deployed worldwide, and is committed to purchase up to 10,000 electric vehicles from Arrival.