As many businesses struggle during the coronavirus pandemic, one aviation company in Burlington went before the city council this week seeking approval of a building lease at the Burlington International Airport. Beta Technologies expects significant expansion of its work designing and building EV aircraft.
Beta Technologies is a startup company that requested a multi-year lease from the Burlington City Council this week for a 41,125-square foot hanger at the Burlington International Airport. Mayor Miro Weinberger said the company has been operating at the airport since 2018 and the lease will allow it to renovate and become a major aerospace employer. “What they’re trying to do is really quite revolutionary. They are trying to build the first commercial electric airplane and they’re in a race against scores of other companies around the world. But they have continuously been doing very well in that race over a couple years now. And this lease is a sign of just how well they’re doing and that they’re getting to the place, even amidst the great financial uncertainty of this economy, of getting to a place where they can make more significant investments in this community.”
Owner and founder Kyle Clark explained the origins and said goal is to sustainably revolutionize air travel. “The world’s largest EV aircraft to have ever flown was flown at the Burlington airport almost two years ago. And that kicked off a pretty interesting journey that just came to another milestone in flying the new largest aircraft all powered by battery and electricity. And we’ve been incredibly fortunate in finding customers that have been supporting our development of the aircraft, and the recharging pads and an entire training center being the first electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft granted the rights to issue letters of authorization for pilots to actually fly these things.”
Clark says the lease with the city allows them to invest about $11 million to renovate a former maintenance building for the airport. It will house the company offices, a flight training center and advanced laboratory space to further develop electric-powered aircraft. “The electric aircraft they are obviously emissions free, significantly quieter than traditional helicopters and they are the future of aerospace technologies.”
Clark envisions Burlington as the hub for a corridor of charging pads across the Northeast. “There’s a recharging pad in Burlington. The next one’s going to the airport in Plattsburgh. And then one down to Manchester and then one down to Long Island. And it’ll be the beginning of a recharging corridor for sustainable zero-emissions aircraft that will be moving medical supplies and organs up and down the East Coast first all the way down to the Mayo Clinic down in Jacksonville over the next two-and-a-half years. And by 2023 we attempt to have a certified aircraft that then can carry organs, tissues, cargo and eventually passengers. So by 2025 to 2030 I think that we’re going to see mobility change and we would like to be a leader in that.”
Burlington International Airport General Manager Gene Richards is enthusiastic about the company’s potential. “These guys are just thinking about the future and how we’re going to make it there safely.”
Beta Technologies currently has 70 employees and expects to expand to 110 by the end of the year. When renovations on the building are complete the company expects to employ up to 150 people.