United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) is taking package delivery to new heights, literally, with the purchase of 10 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft from Beta Technologies.
In an announcement Wednesday, Atlanta-based UPS said it will test the eVTOLs for use in its Express Air delivery network, focusing on small and medium markets. The company will operate the eVTOLs under its Flight Forward division, which is also exploring drone delivery.
The new type of aircraft, which looks like a cross between a plane and a helicopter, “unlocks new business models that don’t exist today,” Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group, told the media.
“For example, you can see a future where it’s carrying, let’s say 1,000 pounds, 1,500 pounds to rural hospitals,” and landing on a helipad instead of an airport.
Vermont-based Beta Technologies will design and build the eVTOLs, which are set to be delivered to UPS in 2024, pending certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Beta will also provide landing pads and rechargeable batteries. UPS holds an option to purchase up to 150 more eVTOLs. The price of the transaction was not disclosed. The eVTOLs can fly up to 250 miles at 170 mph on a single charge.
The eVTOLs would be used similarly to small fixed-wing aircraft that have a capacity of 500 to 3,000 pounds. UPS said it initially plans to use them in smaller markets and create a series of short routes or one long route to meet customer needs.
UPS stock got liftoff of 38 cents to $173.75.