Express UPS purchased 150 eVTOL aircraft for deliveries.
The courier company Express UPS wants to buy up to 150 eVTOL electric planes from the developer Beta Technologies in Vermont. Deliveries could begin in 2024. UPS is trying to expand drone operations into its massive network, building on ongoing projects through its drone operations division, UPS Flight Forward. The agreement also marks a major gain for Beta, which is developing a fully electric aircraft called the ALIA-250.
The aircraft that UPS intends to purchase will have 1.435 lb (635 kg) full load, flight range of up to 217 nm (402 km). Cruising speed can be up to 148kt (274 km / h). Juan Perez, head of Information and Engineers at UPS, mentions that: "These new aircraft will be much more operationally efficient, open up new opportunities for new services and serve as a basis for future solutions to reduce emissions and pollution.".
The aircraft has a "direct drive electric" propulsion system with air-cooled engines.
The Beta aircraft has four fixed vertical propulsion elements for lifting and a push element on the tail. EVTOL batteries will be able to be charged in one hour or less, says UPS. UPS intends to use the aircraft "to increase its air service to certain small and medium-sized markets". EVTOLs will operate from and between UPS bases, giving the company a faster and less expensive way to ship packages to smaller markets, says UPS.
Beta sells the ALIA-250 both in the six-seater passenger configuration and in the cargo configuration with 5,7cb m (200cb ft) of cargo space available. It is designed to land on what Beta calls the "multi-function loading plate", which consists of a landing deck above a structure that houses a control center and a rest area.
UPS "operates daily revenue-generating flights with drones."
In March, Beta conducted its first flight tests. It took off from Plattsburgh, New York, to the company's headquarters in the Burlington area of Vermont, about 32 miles away.
In 2019, the US Federal Aviation Administration granted UPS Flight Forward a Part 135 certificate of operation, which allows the company to perform package delivery flights beyond the line of sight, generating revenue, using drones, according to the agency. UPS Flight Forward operated a quadcopter drone called the M2, which has a payload of 5 lbs and is manufactured by Matternet in California.