UPS plans to add electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft to its air fleet. The aircraft will take off and land in a whisper-quiet fashion, reducing time-in-transit, vehicle emissions, and operating cost.
The aircraft will be purchased from Beta technologies (BETA) and used to augment UPS’s air service for select small and mid-size markets. The Beta aircraft’s 1,400-pound cargo capacity is ideally suited to more quickly and sustainably transport time-sensitive deliveries that would otherwise fly on small fixed-wing aircraft.
UPS’s use of the aircraft will benefit healthcare providers, thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, and other companies in smaller communities. With a 250-mile range and cruising speed of up to 170 miles per hour, UPS will be able to plan a series of short routes, or one long route, on a single charge to meet customers’ needs.
“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.”
The aviation industry is focusing on small aircraft, which UPS uses to serve many small and medium-sized communities, to develop groundbreaking, sustainable electric-powered aircraft. BETA’s aircraft has four fixed vertical lift propellers and one pusher propeller for forward flight. It can charge in an hour or less, and produces zero operational emissions.
“We’re combining simple, elegant design and advanced technology to create a reliable aircraft with zero operational emissions that will revolutionise how cargo moves,” said BETA founder and chief executive officer Kyle Clark. “By utilising vertical takeoffs and landings, we can turn relatively small spaces at existing UPS facilities into a micro air feeder network without the noise or operating emissions of traditional aircraft.”
UPS has also reserved BETA’s recharging station for a seamless and fully integrated electric aviation system. The BETA charging station helps ensure safe and rapid charging of the aircraft in under one hour, and facilitates a quick turn for the loading and unloading of cargo. The charging station also offers the aircraft’s batteries a second life cycle.