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USAF awards Beta Technologies manned electric aircraft airworthiness approval

The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded its first airworthiness approval for a manned electric aircraft to Beta Technologies, allowing the company to begin flying its Alia platform in the serviceā€™s Agility Prime programme.

USAF engineers spent more than year examining Beta Technologiesā€™ Alia, evaluating its design and flight capabilities against the MIL-HDBK-516C standard for airworthiness. USAF personnel and subject matter expects evaluated the aircraftā€™s design and maintenance requirements along with the companyā€™s operations and flight test plans, according to a 5 May service statement.

Under a new contract to be signed in June, the USAF will have access to the piloted 3,175 kg-class electric aircraft and immersive electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) simulators located in Washington, DC, and Springfield, Ohio, near the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This agreement will enable USAF acquisition personnel to make data-driven decisions informed by real assessments of military utility, Colonel Nathan Diller, AFWERX director, was quoted by the service as saying.

AFRL engineers used unique equipment and analysis capabilities to conduct structural testing on the Alia. This data will advance the flight test programme while providing valuable insight to the USAF on a unique and novel aircraft design.

In March Beta Technologies advanced to the next phase of its flight testing programme by completing an interstate flight with the Alia. The platform flew from its home airport test facility in Plattsburgh, New York, to the companyā€™s headquarters near Burlington International Airport in Vermont. To abide by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) protocols regarding the flight of experimental aircraft beyond designated test areas, Beta Technologies completed testing to ensure reliable and predictable aircraft performance.

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