Aircraft Startup Beta Raises $375 Million For Electric Cargo Copter, Charging Business

Business

Beta Technologies, an electric aircraft startup working with UPS and backed by Amazon

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, said it raised a further $375 million to prepare to build a fleet of cargo-delivery copters and the charging network they’ll need to keep them powered up.

The South Burlington, Vermont-based company said the Series B round was led by TPG’s Rise Climate fund and Fidelity and boosts its valuation to $2.4 billion. Beta has raised about $800 million as it works to get its non-polluting, quest Alia eVTOL craft approval by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“This support allows us to complete the construction of our production facilities and accelerate our certification work to create a greener and more efficient future for all applications of aviation, starting with cargo and logistics and moving to passenger missions immediately thereafter,” said Kyle Clark, Beta’s founder and CEO, in a statement.

Beta is vying with well-funded rivals including Google

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cofounder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk, Joby Aviation and Lilium to commercialize next-generation electric aircraft that are quieter, more flexible and cheaper to operate than conventional helicopters. Though Beta plans to eventually ferry passengers its initial focus is supplying battery-powered cargo haulers to the U.S. Air Force, United Therapeutics and logistics giant UPS, which hopes to have 10 Alia vehicles in operation by 2024 and up to 140 more in the future.

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(For more on CEO Clark and Beta see Amazon And UPS Are Betting This Electric Aircraft Startup Will Change Shipping)

The Alia, with a 50-foot wingspan, is designed to carry up to 1,400 pounds of goods or, eventually as many as five people in addition to a pilot. Along with supporting its own aircraft, Beta intends to generate revenue from a charging network that can repower a range of electric vehicles, including trucks and support vehicles. Blade Urban Air Mobility has ordered five Alias with an option for up to 20 and plans to use them to ferry passengers to and from airports and on long-distance commuter routes.

“We believe Beta is uniquely positioned to navigate the technological and regulatory environment and drive long-term growth and innovation in the aviation sector,” TPG partner Jonathan Garfinkel said in a statement.

Alia could travel up to 250 nautical miles with a smaller payload.

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