SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – A Vermont-based technology company has struck a deal to sell electric planes to one of America’s shipping giants.
BETA Technologies, based in South Burlington, has just confirmed a transaction with UPS. The company has committed to purchase 10 aircraft and has an option to purchase another 150.
BETA’s electric plane is a cross between an airplane and a helicopter. Leaders say landing in the commercial sector helps the business really get off the ground.
“It’s a huge deal for the entire industry as it’s a big step in sustainable aviation by a major player in the logistics world, but it’s clearly a huge deal for BETA here in Burlington,” said Kyle Clark, the founder and CEO of BETA.
Clark says the company has made great strides in recent years in developing a concept written on a drawing board to an electric plane flying in the sky.
But this UPS commitment takes technology to new heights.
“With UPS on a real mission for the planes they can use every day, get the load factor high enough so that the really, really important savings, financial savings from the reduction in maintenance and the elimination of fuels on the plane close that commercial gap , ”Said Clark.
In other words, the more companies like UPS invest in electric planes, the cheaper it will be.
And once BETA establishes financial viability, it can leverage the sustainability of the technology.
“People really cannot consider green technologies if they are always burdened with financial disadvantages,” said Clark.
So far, United Therapeutics of Vermont has signed a contract with the company to use the electric plane to transport organs and tissues. The US Air Force has also made a commitment.
UPS said in a statement that it is on board because it will eliminate the need to stop at airports to deliver time-sensitive packages. Instead, the helicopter-like landing and take-off capability allows the aircraft to travel directly from facility to facility.
Pending FAA certification, Clark says all planes will be on the air by 2024.
“It will all add up to hundreds of hundreds of planes per year taking carbon-emitting, fuel-burning planes out of the sky. And by 2030 I think we will be with thousands of planes per year, ”he said.
Meet ALIA. The plane often tests the air of Plattsburgh and Burlington. Only two electric planes, manned by one pilot, have currently been built.
For UPS purposes, the cargo hold can hold up to 1,400 pounds of packages.
“I would say we passed some really important milestones to prove to UPS and United Therapeutics that the technology works fundamentally, and now it’s a challenge in implementation, a regulatory challenge and a challenge in manufacturing,” Clark said.
Reporter Christina Guessferd: where will the production take place?
Kyle Clark: We are currently building the prototypes and compliant aircraft here in Vermont. We hope to build the future plane here in Vermont.
BETA is looking for people to make that possible. Clark says the 200-person company will be looking for about 300 additional employees to ramp up production in the coming years.
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