In a groundbreaking milestone for the future of aviation, an all-electric, battery-powered aircraft landed at Reading Regional Airport Tuesday afternoon. The flight, which began in White Plains, New York, is part of a more extensive journey down the east coast of the United States.
The aircraft’s journey from White Plains, NY to Reading Airport marked a remarkable achievement, as it successfully covered a distance of 131 miles during a flight lasting 1 hour and 3 minutes.
This aviation marvel is made possible by BETA Technologies, an electric aerospace company headquartered in Burlington, Vermont. BETA Technologies is on a mission to revolutionize the aviation industry by making flight safer, more cost-efficient, and eco-friendly. Their innovative approach combines all-electric aircraft, multimodal charging infrastructure, and comprehensive training programs to foster the development of next-generation pilots and aircraft maintainers.
“Airports like Reading Regional Airport are critical to our country’s infrastructure. We’ve designed our all-electric aircraft with all types of airports in mind, including smaller regional airports like this, where we can help alleviate strained air cargo networks and increase rural access to air travel. As we continue to progress toward FAA certification and in-market operations, operating in these same environments and understanding what’s required has provided invaluable learning” said a BETA Spokesperson.
Currently, BETA is in the process of completing a multi-leg flight down the east coast, with the ultimate destination being Duke Field at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where they will deliver this groundbreaking aircraft to one of their esteemed customers.
One of the noteworthy highlights of BETA’s journey to date is that their prototype piloted electric aircraft has covered over 26,000 miles during its flight test campaign. This includes a remarkable 336 nautical mile (386-mile) flight, which stands as the longest known flight of any electric aircraft to date.
This is not the first time BETA’s electric aircraft has embarked on a long-distance trip. In the past, this exceptional airplane completed two other 1,000+ mile journeys across the country. The first voyage took it from the Plattsburgh, New York Flight Test Facility to Bentonville, Arkansas, and back, with charging taking place on BETA’s own infrastructure. The second trip led it to Louisville, Kentucky, and back.
It’s essential to note that these pioneering electric aircraft are being produced and manufactured right in Vermont, where BETA recently unveiled a 188,500 square-foot nearly net-zero building. This facility is hailed as the first scaled manufacturing plant for electric aviation in the United States.
As for BETA’s primary market focus, the company is taking a cargo-first approach, targeting applications across cargo logistics, medical cargo, and military/defense. Future plans include venturing into passenger services.
In addition to their cutting-edge aircraft, BETA is actively building multimodal, interoperable electric charging infrastructure to power electric transportation. This vast network is planned to extend across the United States, supporting various types of electric aircraft and ground electric vehicles.
BETA’s electric charging infrastructure currently spans 13 sites, stretching from Vermont to Arkansas to Georgia. Furthermore, they have more than 50 additional sites in permitting or construction stages along the east and gulf coasts.
The successful landing of the all-electric, battery-powered aircraft at Reading Airport is a testament to BETA Technologies’ commitment to electrifying the future of aviation. With more ambitious goals and milestones on the horizon, the journey towards cleaner, safer, and more efficient flight is well underway.