The US military is testing an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that will be used for critical military, cargo and medical operations.
In a 1.5-hour flight test, the service tested the “performance and handling qualities of ALIA eVTOL in conventional (aeroplane) mode”, the US Army’s DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center. tweeted July 19.
The test flight was conducted in partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory Technology Branch’s AFWERX Agility Prime project.
The team plans to continue testing the eVTOL and has hinted at adding eVTOL helicopters in the future.
A @The American army first: MAJ Wes Ogden made his first Beta Alia evaluation flight, the 1st #Army #aviator fly an electric plane. The 1.6-hour flight included an evaluation of performance and handling qualities in conventional (aeroplane) mode. #eVTOL #ArmyAviation @AFWERX pic.twitter.com/bKOAwccTmk
– US Army DEVCOM Aviation and Missile Center (@devcom_avmc) July 19, 2022
Created by Vermont-based company eVTOL BETA, the ALIA has an electric motor that allows it to move vertically and engage in long-distance, energy-efficient flight.
The aircraft includes a cargo variant that can carry up to 200 cubic feet of volume and a passenger variant that can carry six (including the pilot).
Its maximum takeoff 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 eVTOL Breakthroughs
In March, the US Air Force completed ALIA’s first test flight at a New York test facility. The event marked the second year of partnership between developers ALIA and AFWERX.
More recently, the 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).