The US Army is testing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will be used for critical military, cargo, and medical operations.
In a 1.6-hour flight test, the service tested ALIA eVTOL’s “performance & handling qualities in conventional (airplane) mode,” the US Army DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center tweeted on July 19.
The test flight was held in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Technology Directorate’s AFWERX Agility Prime project.
The team plans to continue testing the eVTOL and hinted at adding eVTOL helicopters in the future.
A @USArmy first: MAJ Wes Ogden completed his initial evaluation flight of the Beta Alia, the 1st #Army #aviator to fly an electric aircraft. The 1.6 hour flight included assessment of performance & handling qualities in conventional (airplane) mode. #eVTOL #ArmyAviation @AFWERX pic.twitter.com/bKOAwccTmk
— U.S. Army DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center (@devcom_avmc) July 19, 2022
Created by Vermont-based eVTOL firm BETA, the ALIA has an electric engine that allows it to move vertically and engage in a long-range, energy-efficient flight.
The aircraft features a cargo variant that could carry up to 200 cubic feet of volume and a passenger variant that could fly six (including the pilot).
Its maximum take-off weight is nearly 7,000 pounds (3,200 kilograms), and it has a wingspan of 50 feet (15 meters).
The eVTOL could reach 250 nautical miles (290 miles/460 kilometers) in a single flight, and fully recharge in 50 minutes.
US Army’s eVTOL Breakthroughs
In March, the US Air Force completed ALIA’s first test flight at a New York testing facility. The event marked the second year of partnership between ALIA developers and AFWERX.
More recently, the service tested the Hexa 09, an eVTOL developed by LIFT Aircraft. The 18-propeller unmanned aerial vehicle flew for 10 minutes, reaching an altitude of 50 feet (15 meters).