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Old 04-08-2021, 09:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Beta Technologies' ALIA-250 electric aircraft

One of the companies I do contracting work for is working on something really cool:

https://vtdigger.org/2021/04/08/sout...-with-ups/amp/

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They’re a pair of half-plane, half-helicopter aircraft developed by South Burlington-based Beta Technologies. They’re entirely electric, can travel up to 170 mph with a 250-mile range, and can take off and land vertically.

Now, UPS has agreed to buy 10 of those aircraft, with the option to buy 150 more. It’s a deal that augurs well for the viability of electric aircraft, and local jobs.

The Beta aircraft fully recharge in about an hour, and can carry about 1,400 pounds of cargo. As part of the deal, UPS will get access to Beta’s charging stations.

They make virtually everything in-house - it's neat to watch them wind motors and dyno them, and to produce large body panels out of carbon fiber. I wish I would have taken more pictures - there's no photography ban. Maybe I will next time I'm there.

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Old 04-08-2021, 10:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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“It’s not that challenging to build an aircraft to get it to fly,” Clark told VTDigger in 2018, “but to certify it and have it be an economically compelling product that people want to buy and operate … those are much more difficult goals.”

As companies like United Parcel Service invest in the technology, though, and production ramps up, the aircraft will only become more affordable to produce.
The product is one thing. The factory to produce it [efficiently] is another.



What do you make of those rotors? It looks like a Prandtl airfoil.
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Old 04-08-2021, 10:32 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The leaf is rated to 99 miles of range and can go 94mph. But not both. Realistic useable normal person highway driving with out killing the battery range is about 70 miles in the summer. About 50 in the winter. Driving 94mph you will get about 40 to 45 miles in the summer.
I would be interested in knowing what you have to do to get the 250 mile range. You probably have to go way up above 10,000 feet to get your 250 mile range so you will need oxygen as I'm not expecting the cabin to pressurize.
What a the top speed at low altitude speed?
For example the CV22 top speed is something like 240 knots, but at low altitude it's significantly slower due to reasons.
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Old 04-09-2021, 10:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Not a parndtl airfoil, does use their planform which is more important. In their paper, I don't see discussion regarding ordinates for anything special except low drag.

250mph limit at low altitude is like a school zone for TCA's because they can't react fast enough to merge you into their horrendously huge buffer area and IFR spacing.

Unless you regen back down, the climb to altitude eats half the fuel load, cruise not so much. Still a requirement to arrive at an airport with 45 minutes flight left on the batteries

Just like flying cars, I have to call bovine exhaust
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Old 04-09-2021, 04:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Cool project. Sometimes I miss my early aerospace days.
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Old 04-09-2021, 04:49 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Opps I forgot about holding pattern fuel. It is supposed to vertical take off so it could land just about anywhere. Not sure if that applies. Probably should assume it does.

Remember in aviation takeoff is optional, landing is mandatory.
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Old 04-09-2021, 05:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oil pan 4 View Post
Opps I forgot about holding pattern fuel. It is supposed to vertical take off so it could land just about anywhere. Not sure if that applies. Probably should assume it does.

Remember in aviation takeoff is optional, landing is mandatory.
The article says UPS ordered some to speed up air delivery to rural areas without airports. So they are likely planning on landing at some rural hub.

Our company HQ used to have a helipad so the CEO didn't have to sit in traffic on his way to and from the airport. No holding pattern - just a guy with a flag to make sure the area was clear.
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Old 04-09-2021, 08:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotrsko View Post
Unless you regen back down, the climb to altitude eats half the fuel load, cruise not so much.
Even though I wouldn't hold my breath for that, the ducted bypass of a modern turbofan airliner engine seems easier to hybridize and to provide some sort of regen while approaching the glide slope.
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Old 04-10-2021, 09:38 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Even though I wouldn't hold my breath for that, the ducted bypass of a modern turbofan airliner engine seems easier to hybridize and to provide some sort of regen while approaching the glide slope.
Not sure how much power you can get from autorotation, but guessing it is small unless you descend like a shot duck. What ever happened to the GE turbofan with the external blades? I know it shed a blade and immediately went quiet.

45 minute: Not a holding pattern, it's a bad weather requirement so you could go find a better place to land. Don't know what was going on with the flagman, you generally call traffic over the local radio frequencies then " see and avoid".

The rules might be different for VTOL like it is for helicopters

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Old 04-10-2021, 12:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I don't know the fascination with multirotors. Helicopters are way more efficient (with the possible exception of this hybrid design). Coaxial helicopters are the most efficient and fairly compact.

Variable pitch blades allow for autorotation, making them fairly safe in engine out scenarios.

Going further off on tangent, having sensitive gyros and an automatic control system was essential to making quadcopters (drones) feasible because they aren't controllable by humans without it. Now that's practically all that's sold in the hobby area, but those control systems are easily integrated with helicopters, which as I already stated, are way more efficient.

I would think helicopters would be the natural starting point for EV VTOL aircraft. Instant torque adjustment from the motor makes them even higher performing, and it may even be possible to recover power on descent (autorotate).

There's nothing inherently easier regarding autonomous systems either. It's just as trivial to have an autonomous helicopter as a multirotor.

https://special-ops.org/heliwhale-af...st-helicopter/

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