Beta Technologies has raised a further $375 million to support the development of its Alia 250 eVTOL aircraft and charging infrastructure in a round of private financing led by TPG Rise Climate, the dedicated climate investing strategy of TPG’s global impact investing platform TPG Rise, and Fidelity Management & Research Company. The Vermont-based start-up called the funding round announced on April 20 as, “meaningfully oversubscribed.”
Fidelity also backed an earlier funding round that raised $368 million in May 2021. That round was also supported by Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund, and Beta has now raised a total of $796 million.
Designed initially for the transportation of medical products and cargo, the Alia 250 will carry 1,400 pounds of payload and requires less than an hour to charge after full missions. While Beta Technologies sees the Alia primarily serving cargo, logistics, and medical applications, it also plans a configuration meant to carry up to five passengers and a pilot. The company expects the aircraft to gain FAA type certification in 2024.
Beta also has built and deployed multimodal, charging infrastructure across the U.S. to support electric vehicles, including various types of eVTOLs and ground electric vehicles. The company has begun the installation of more than 65 charging locations now online or in the permit phase and plans for “hundreds” more at strategic locations.
The network already extends from Burlington, Vermont, to Melbourne, Florida, and Bentonville, Arkansas, and Beta plans to continue expansion across the U.S. The charging network includes on- and off-airport stations, featuring new capabilities and providing what Beta calls “a true end-to-end solution” for customers' full fleet of ground and air vehicles.
“Zero emissions aviation is a critical part of turning the corner on climate change, and we are thrilled that our investors see our electric aviation system as a meaningful step towards this ambitious goal,” said Kyle Clark, Beta’s Founder and CEO. “This support allows us to complete the construction of our production facilities and accelerate our certification work to create a greener and more efficient future for all applications of aviation, starting with cargo and logistics and moving to passenger missions immediately thereafter.”
In recent months, Beta has achieved critical technical and airworthiness milestones. In March, two U.S. Air Force pilots flew the Alia 250 in a handling qualities evaluation test, marking the first-ever manned flight of an electric aircraft through the Afwerx Agility Prime program. The flight marked a key step in the U.S. Air Force’s evaluation of Beta’s aircraft for use in future missions. In preparation for the flight, the USAF pilots underwent extensive safety and preparedness training for the flight tests, completing intensive aircraft academics on Beta’s Alia, attending thorough ground school sessions to learn every system of the aircraft from the Beta subject matter experts who built them, and undergoing simulator training to understand how to manage unplanned events. “This deep engagement is illustrative of Beta’s overall real-world approach to safety,” said the company.
Beta says it holds committed orders and contracts with leading operators across military, medical, cargo and passenger. Package delivery giant UPS, for one, placed a firm order for 10 aircraft with the option to order an additional 140 and reserved the right to purchase Beta's charging stations. Beta’s first customer, United Therapeutics, plans to use the aircraft to transport its manufactured and repaired organs for human transplantation and will use its charging stations to support those missions.
In addition to a recent first crewed flight milestone, the Alia 250 was the first eVTOL to receive military airworthiness approval for a manned electric aircraft through the program. The U.S. Army signed a contract with Beta earlier this year to support the advancement of its operational flight test program. Blade Urban Air Mobility ordered five Alia aircraft and reserved an option for up to 20 to support plans to serve a diverse set of mission profiles, including airport transfers and longer-distance commuter routes.
Beta said it plans to use the latest tranche of funds to accelerate growth and operations as it progresses toward FAA certification of the Alia. Specifically, it will continue to refine its electric propulsion systems and controls, advance testing of its two Alia prototypes, and expand its charging infrastructure.