CAE is to develop pilot and maintenance technician training programs for Beta Technologies’ Alia 250 eVTOL aircraft. The aviation training group will work with the manufacturer throughout the development and type certification process to support launch customers expected to begin operating the all-electric model in 2024, including UPS, United Therapeutics, and Blade Urban Air Mobility.
In a September 15 announcement, CAE said it will “develop a full suite of innovative, digitally integrated curriculum and courseware solutions for the aviation workforce of tomorrow.” The Canada-based company has been training pilots and other aviation professionals for more than 70 years, with customers in the airline, business aviation, and defense sectors worldwide.
Developers of eVTOL aircraft, including Beta, say they are designing these to be simpler to operate and maintain to take account of the anticipated high rates of utilization in roles such as air taxi services and cargo deliveries. Like most other companies in the field, Beta has not yet revealed the configuration for flight deck systems but is clearly involving CAE closely in the development process. “The new training program will be built from the ground up, in parallel with Beta’s aircraft certification journey, taking into account the unique operational and mission-specific inputs for this aircraft,” said the partners in their joint statement.
In July, CAE announced it is working with Germany-based Volocopter to prepare to train pilots for its eVTOL aircraft. The training company is investing $40 million in equipment and instructors, including aircraft type-specific simulators.
In May, Jaunt Air Mobility said that CAE is producing an engineering simulator to support development work with its eVTOL aircraft. The Jaunt Aircraft Systems Integration Lab will be in Montreal where CAE and Jaunt’s development and manufacturing hubs are based.
Late last year, CAE published its updated Pilot Demand Outlook report for 2020 to 2029, estimating that the civil aviation industry will need around 264,000 new flight crew in this decade. The report pointed out that this figure does not take account of pilots and mechanics who will be needed for the advanced air mobility sector’s planned new operations and business models.
Blade has committed to adding 20 Alia 250s to its passenger transportation network, with the new $4 million aircraft to be acquired through “third-party financing relationships” with its operating partners. Express delivery group UPS Flight Forward said it plans to take delivery of 10 aircraft in 2024, with options for a further 140 units.
Medical technology group United Therapeutics, whose founder Martine Rothblatt is an investor in Beta, has committed to acquiring an unspecified number of Alia 250s. In December 2020, she told the International Aerospace Innovation Forum that the company is also considering EHang’s autonomous eVTOL vehicles and Eco Helicopters’ planned electric-powered R44 rotorcraft for various applications, including delivery of human organs for transplant.
In May, Beta raised $368 million in a funding round supported by Fidelity Management & Research Company and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund. The Alia 250 aircraft will carry a pilot and up to five passengers or 1,500 pounds of cargo.
The Vermont-based start-up offers to cover costs for all employees to gain pilot licenses, to give them a closer understanding of aircraft engineering. Its team has backgrounds that include the FAA, the U.S. military, Boeing, Tesla, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin, and General Electric.