UPS plans to purchase up to 150 eVTOL aircraft from Beta Technologies for use in the fast delivery of sensitive cargo services, the company announced on Wednesday.
The ALIA-250c aircraft was chosen by the company, of which 10 units are expected to be delivered by 2024. The model, which is undergoing flight tests, has four lift propellers and a push propeller at the rear of the fuselage.
According to Beta, its eVTOL is capable of taking off with up to 6,000 lbs, has a range of 250 nm (463 km) and can fly up to 170 miles per hour. The cargo version can carry up to 1,400 lbs and will be used by UPS to serve customers as healthcare providers and small and medium businesses.
“This is all about innovation with a focus on returns for our business, our customers, and the environment,” said UPS Chief Information and Engineering Officer Juan Perez. “These new aircraft will create operational efficiencies in our business, open possibilities for new services, and serve as a foundation for future solutions to reduce the emissions profile of our air and ground operation.”
EVTOL airplanes will take off from UPS facilities where there will be charging stations. The time to recharge the batteries in the ALIA-250c is 50 minutes, says Beta.
At first, the electric aircraft will be manned, but in the future, after FAA certification, the ALIA-250c will be able to fly autonomously. The civil aviation agency has already granted UPS Flight Forward, a subsidiary dedicated to this service, the drone airline certification that allows the company to fly with loads of up to 7,500 lbs.
UPS said that the eVTOL fleet will not only have a zero emission impact but will operate quietly and at a lower cost.