Alia eVTOL completes first official test flight

Alia eVtol

BETA Technologies’ Alia electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has completed its first official test flight from Eglin Air Force Base, marking a historic moment in electric aviation. The test evaluated battery performance, power configurations and the logistical aspects of subsequent flights, paving the way for potential applications in the air force and military sectors.

Background to the Alia eVTOL test flight

On November 7, 2023, BETA Technologies’ Alia eVTOL aircraft made history with its first official test flight from Eglin Air Force Base. This event marks a crucial step in the evolution of electric aviation, particularly for military applications.

Test objectives and schedule

The main objectives of the test flight were to evaluate the battery’s performance over designated distances and different power configurations, and to examine the logistical aspects of consecutive flights with an electric aircraft. The Alia pilots flew 68 nautical miles to Tyndall Air Force Base, making a quick landing and return to Duke Field, north of Eglin.

Unique recharging process and logistical implications

Notably, the aircraft recharged using the Department of Defense’s only aircraft recharging station, requiring around an hour for a full recharge. This unique process is inspired by military flight operations, resembling the concept of “hot-pitting”, where an aircraft refuels between missions, except that with the Alia, the “fuel” is electricity.

Alia eVtol

Potential applications for the air force and military sector

This mission demonstrated the Alia’s potential applications for the air force and military sectors. It also marked the aircraft’s first solo mission, demonstrating its capabilities for familiarization flights in the local area.

Additional evaluations and infrared recordings

In addition to the battery and logistics evaluations, the test included infrared recordings made by 782nd Test Squadron sensor operators. These recordings, captured with special IR cameras during take-offs and landings, form the basis for calibrating the sensors for future tests in December.

The importance of the infrared signature

Josh Bohannon, 782nd TS senior electronics engineer, emphasized the importance of the aircraft’s infrared signature in determining its survivability in operation. Analysis of the aircraft’s IR signature provides unprecedented insight into the IR characteristics of an electric aircraft engine in flight.

Contribution to AFWERX programs

All findings from this historic flight will contribute to AFWERX’s electric vertical take-off and landing program, managed and sponsored by AFWERX Agility Prime.

Implications and future prospects

The first official test flight of the Alia eVTOL opens up promising prospects for electric aviation, particularly in military applications. Its performance in terms of recharging, logistics and infrared signature lays the foundations for the future integration of these aircraft into wider civil and military operations.

The successful test flight of the Alia eVTOL from Eglin air base represents a major milestone in the evolution of electric aviation. By demonstrating its capabilities in terms of battery performance, logistics and infrared signature, the Alia eVTOL is positioned as a promising candidate for both military and civil applications. This flight not only tests the current limits of electric aviation technology, but also paves the way for future innovations that could radically transform the aviation landscape.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.