Beta Technologies Alia CTOL Impresses At Cape Cod Debut


Three years ago, the Massachusetts state senator representing Cape Cod proposed a blanket $1,000 landing fee for all GA aircraft at every airport in the state. In contrast, last week, an aircraft showed up at Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) that drew gushing praise from local press and multiple state officials—and was not charged a landing fee.

The author of the 2021 bill, Senator Julian Cyr, admitted to AVweb at the time that his proposal was ill-advised. But the turnaround attitude toward any form of GA three years later is a significant reversal. It certainly helps that the Beta Technologies “Alia” prototype that made its Cape Cod debut last week is a whisper-quiet, all-electric aircraft.

Jeffrey DeCarlo, Massachusetts Department of Transportation Aeronautics Administrator, said, “A quieter civilian electric aircraft that launches and lands like a helicopter yet flies with the speed and agility of a plane can create new opportunities to move people and cargo in a way that’s green, clean, and more efficient, cost-effective, equitable and versatile.” To clarify, the particular aircraft that touched down at Joint Base Cape Cod is Vermont-based Beta’s CTOL (conventional takeoff and landing) fixed-wing-only Alia prototype. It is not the VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) version of the Beta Technologies project.

But that didn’t cool the sizzle in the local press, sparking suggestions that welcoming electric aircraft represents an economic opportunity for the region, including potential military applications. For example, members of the Massachusetts Army and Air National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard, both based at JBCC, attended the event, which was arranged by the Air Force’s AFWERX (a tortured acronym for “Air Force Work Projects”) program and the U.S. Department of Defense.

JBCC Executive Director Brigadier General (ret.) Christopher Faux suggested future economic advantages, including potential employment opportunities, saying, “We see this as an opportunity not just for Joint Base Cape Cod, but for the entire region. Finding airfield partners helps reduce the cost of airfield operations for our military partners while simultaneously bringing the innovation associated with advanced air mobility to the Cape. At this point, I can only imagine, not quantify, the synergies of electric aircraft at civilian airports throughout the region working hand-in-hand with military aviation on JBCC.”

Administrator DeCarlo of the Massachusetts DoT added, “Developing military-use cases for advanced air mobility technologies, such as BETA’s electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, will create opportunities to improve civilian transportation in the commonwealth, across New England, and throughout the nation.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


  1. Senator Julian Cyr’s attitude against GA but pro eVTOL is proof this type of vehicle is all political

  2. I’m sure this thing will work just fine during an EMP event. The ONLY thing flying then will be ‘old’ airplanes with regular magneto and people will get to the airport in their 1953 chevies.

    AND … what a great place to showcase this ‘thing’ … cape cod. Is that the new Edwards AFB?

    • I think if there was an EMP event locally to your aircraft big enough to cause its electronics to fail quite so cosmically, an unserviceable aircraft would be the least of your problems.

  3. In essence I agree with you and share your feelings but I think an EMP would smoke our magnetos. They use coils which would be vulnerable. The metal case may provide a bit of protection but I doubt it.

    With that said a mag can be rebuilt with a spool of copper wire. This thing, not so much.

  4. I’m sure there are plenty of “exotic metals in the world somewhere” to make the power packs for these toys. Finding it, mining it, shipping it and constructing it is very “Green” indeed. Then we need more power stations, solar farms and wind farms to charge up the little boogers so we can take 2 rich guys 40 mile to the big airport.

    • And don’t forget to take them to their second mansions in Martha’s Vineyard away from the vacationing masses on “The Cape”!

    • Yes, there are plenty of places to find ‘rare’ earth metals – they are abundant, just not always convenient to extract. Finding, mining, and shipping will affect the price of what someone else is paying for – why are you concerned?

  5. Significant turnaround on an issue by a politician – one gets the sense of why EvToL projects seem to require vast quantities of financial fuel.

  6. I thought this was an AVIATION-related blog…….
    SO instead of the mindless parroting of the blather from corrupt, ignorant politicos, how about some information / data about the AIRCRAFT pictured ??
    “…….an aircraft that launches and lands like a helicopter yet flies with the speed and agility of a plane…..? The last time I flew a Bell-206, my experience was that it had FAR more agility than any fixed-wing I ever flew….and more speed than most of the GA fleet of fixedwing AC.

    • I looked at the provided link to the developer’s website. There was no useful data there on things like price, range, weight, endurance, safety, etc.

  7. Agreed–a Jetranger or Longranger is likely faster and also likely has more range than any of the “wanna-be” electric toys. The helicopter also carries more people.

    Like most electric cars–reality has a way of demonstrating why the “electric airplane” is not a “thing”–it is always “in the future–when battery technology gets better.”

    Yet “Hope springs eternal” for some–AS LONG AS THEY DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT.

    Let me know when any of the electric “concept aircraft” are actually certified and delivered. I, for one, would rather concentrate on something that is certified–attainable proven dependable–and beats the proven fuel-driven alternative–rather than “wanna-be” aircraft. Until then, they are something right out of a comic wish book. In aviation, WISHING is not an option.

    • “The helicopter also carries more people.”

      According to the infallible Wiki, the JetRanger carries a pilot plus four passengers – the Beta carries the pilot plus five.

    • The Velis Electro is world’s first electric powered airplane to receive a Type Certificate.

      Not that is is practical or useful, but it does exist.

  8. The fact that most planes are more fuel efficient for travel than the average car despite government meddling nearly destroying innovation in airplane design and engines for half a century and having our airports constantly moved farther and farther from our homes and destinations (if they are even replaced when ripped up) is likely too much actual science for the blowhard.

  9. “Whisper Quiet” they are not- the press needs to add quote marks- or they are your words, and you are fired for incompetence or lies.

  10. So something new happened that is new technology and all anyone on this site can do is complain? It’s new. It will get better, not now or right away, but it will. Really, this site is turning into the aviation version of X where nothing is good, ever.