First electric air taxi takes flight around New York City


Blade Air Mobility and BETA Technologies announced Tuesday that they successfully tested the first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), or air taxi, in the greater NYC area.

Electric air taxi tested in the greater NYC area

If you’re driving around New York City, keep a lookout for flying electric air taxis, or eVTOLs, as the historic test flight took place at the Westchester county airport in White Plains, NY.

Vermont-based BETA Technologies, an electric aviation and aerospace manufacturer, teamed up with Blade Air Mobility, which provides cost-effective air transportation alternatives in some of the most congested areas globally (US, EU, Canada, and India) to make it a reality.

BETA’s air taxi, ALIA-250 EVA, has been in the works for three years, influenced by the design of the Arctic tern.

Since terns migrate further than any other bird, visiting all corners of the earth, it inspired the company to engineer the most efficient flying method.

The ALIA-250 EVA has two versions – one optimized for passengers and the other for cargo. The eVTOL is powered by a distributed, direct-drive electric propulsion with 250 NM range and a 50-minute charge time.

Inside the electric air taxi simulator (Source: BETA Technologies)

The cargo version features the same specs, but replaces the passenger seating with 200 Ft ^3 cargo space.

Blade initially announced it would purchase up to 20 of BETA’s first ALIA-250 passenger eVTOL in April 2021 as part of its plan to deploy them on routes in the US. In addition, the company will install the necessary charging infrastructure to support the transition.

BETA ALIA-250 charging station (Source: BETA Technologies)

CEO of Blade, Rob Wiesenthal, explains the significance behind the demo, saying:

This demonstration is a big milestone in our transition from helicopters to electric vertical aircraft, and we are pleased that our partners at BETA have designed the right aircraft with the requisite range, capacity, and noise profile, for use in our key markets, including our homebase of New York City.

The electric air taxi demonstration in NYC is a massive milestone for the partnership and sustainable air transportation. BETA has already had test pilots from the US Air Force and Army fly the ALIA-250 in full-pattern evaluations.

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