That approach has been endorsed by several customers, according to Beta, including the shipping giant UPS and United Therapeutics, which plans to use the vehicles to transport organs for transplant. Bristow Group, another customer, plans to use the aircraft the way it uses helicopters today, to transport goods and people to offshore energy installations, run search and rescue missions for governments, and for other purposes.
Bristow, which is working with eight companies developing next-generation aircraft, expects the vehicles to create new opportunities because they are quieter than helicopters and are expected to be 60 to 70 percent cheaper to operate, according to David Stepanek, an executive vice president at Bristow.
In addition to building aircraft, Beta is establishing a network of chargers that can power its aircraft as well as cars, trucks and other vehicles. More than a dozen have been set up, including one at the Air Force site in Florida, making it the military’s first electric aircraft charging station.
The company also built a prototype landing site for aircraft capable of vertical flight, which sits atop repurposed shipping containers, which house energy storage and a small living space for pilots to rest between trips.