Archer Aviation is accelerating the adoption of electric aircraft charging infrastructure developed by rival eVTOL manufacturer Beta Technologies with the purchase of several of Beta's multimodal chargers. Beta says it has delivered two chargers to Archer’s flight test facility in Salinas, California, where Archer is conducting a flight test campaign with its four-passenger Midnight eVTOL air taxi. Both Archer and Beta are developing electric air taxis that are expected to be certified and in service by 2025.
In addition to its CX-300 electric fixed-wing airplane and its Alia-250 eVTOL aircraft, Beta has been developing a network of charging stations in the eastern U.S. with its proprietary charge cubes. The Vermont-based company already has chargers online at 14 locations and is working to install more at another 55 other locations along the East and Gulf Coasts. Through its partnership with Archer, Beta’s charging network is now expanding to the West Coast.
A Beta spokesperson told AIN that Archer has received the first two deliveries of “a number of Beta's mini cube mobile charging systems,” which the California-based eVTOL developer intends to “rapidly deploy as needed.” In addition to the portable mini cubes, Beta intends to install two permanent charging cubes at Archer's facility in Salinas. Archer and Beta have not disclosed exactly where the additional mini cubes might be deployed. Archer plans to launch its first eVTOL air taxi routes in New York City and Chicago, connecting major airports to city centers.
“Fast charging is critical to ensure rapid turnaround times between flights,” said Archer co-founder and CEO Adam Goldstein. “A widespread, fast charging system is critical to ensuring electric air taxis reach scale in the coming years and this collaboration between two industry leaders is an exciting step towards achieving that.”
Beta’s standard charge cubes are Level 3 DC fast chargers that produce 350 kilowatts of power, which is enough to charge an eVTOL aircraft such as the Alia or Midnight in under an hour. Each unit stands about four feet tall and features a 50-foot charging cable for easy access. The mini cube, which sits on caster wheels, is a smaller and easily portable Level 3 DC fast charger, but it produces only about 40 kilowatts of power output, Beta’s spokesperson told AIN.
Both versions of Beta’s chargers are multimodal and interoperable, which means they can charge electric ground vehicles as well as aircraft. The charging systems utilize combined charging standard (CCS) plugs, which are the most commonly used among electric aircraft and ground vehicle manufacturers—with one notable exception being Joby Aviation, a California-based eVTOL developer that has opted to create its own universal charging interface. Joby has not yet revealed the specifications for its proprietary chargers, but the company claims they will be capable of supporting a wider variety of electric vehicles, including larger electric airplanes that could hit the market in the next decade.
Beta says it designed the chargers to the standards outlined in the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) recent white paper, “Interoperability of Electric Charging Infrastructure,” which most electric aircraft developers have agreed to follow. The same standard has also been endorsed by the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE). “When we designed our chargers, we saw an opportunity to support the entire sector by using an already peer-reviewed standard, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with Archer now to validate that aim,” said Beta founder and CEO Kyle Clark.
“The adoption of a unified charging standard will help promote electric aviation’s development at scale,” said GAMA president and CEO Pete Bunce. “Enabling electric aircraft and electric ground vehicles from different manufacturers to share charging infrastructure will help reduce the costs of electrifying existing infrastructure. A common standard will boost confidence in the emerging advanced air mobility sector of our industry and encourage adoption of, and access to, publicly accessible charging networks.”