Fly the Electric Skies

Unlock the future of electric flight as we embark on a riveting journey with Jake Goldman from Beta Technologies, navigating the electrified skies of eVTOL aircraft innovation. Charge up your knowledge on the strategic leaps made by Beta in revolutionizing electric aviation, from their core technology prowess to their proactive deployment of charging stations. Our discussion illuminates how this trailblazing company is not just flying high in a field brimming with competition, but also powering up economies with their $41 million expansion in New York’s Clinton County—promising new horizons for job seekers and aviation enthusiasts alike.

Step into Clinton County’s manufacturing renaissance where Beta Technologies, in concert with local schools and the community, is engineering a talent goldmine for the aerospace industry. Learn how New York’s rich manufacturing heritage and cooperative partnerships are shaping an electrified transportation corridor that stretches toward Canada. Join host Steve Melito for this episode to grasp the full spectrum of opportunities that electric aircraft manufacturing has to offer, all through the lens of collaboration, innovation, and strategic foresight.


Steve Melito: Hey, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now, the podcast that’s powered by FuzeHub. I’m your host, Steve Melito. Today we’re talking to Jake Goldman of Beta Technologies, an electric aerospace company that’s developing vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Beta Technologies is based in South Burlington, Vermont, but has a footprint in Plattsburgh, New York, that could transform the North Country and beyond. Jake, welcome to New York State Manufacturing Now.

Jake Goldman: Thanks so much, Steve, it’s great to be here,

Steve Melito: It’s great having you here, and before we take off today, Jake, so to speak, let’s start with the basics. Tell us some more about Beta Technologies and also, for those who might not know, what’s an eVTOL?

Jake Goldman: Good question. So Beta Technologies, as you said, is an electric aerospace company. We were founded in 2017 in South Burlington, Vermont, and really we’re developing a couple of different products A fixed wing electric aircraft, so takes off on the runway, lands on the runway. An eVTOL, which I’ll get to in a second. As you noted, as well as charging systems that are designed for electric aircraft, but also ground vehicles and those chargers are going in now both across New York State and down the East Coast and through the Gulf, and we’re designing these aircraft and charging systems for customers like UPS, air New Zealand and United Therapeutics. To your question on eVTOL specifically, it stands for electric vertical takeoff and landing, and so the best way to think about it is these are aircraft that take off like a helicopter, so they don’t need a runway, and then they fly horizontally like an aircraft before having the option to land like a helicopter as well, and so you think about it through the lens of some of our customers eliminating the need for a runway in certain instances, similar to how a helicopter would, but at a significantly lower cost to operate, and so what that does is unlock all kinds of new opportunities, whether it’s supporting rural health care access e-commerce or, obviously, passenger transport.

Steve Melito: Absolutely, yeah. When you live in the mountains, it’s tough to always find a nice long runway, so it can certainly have some applications there. Yeah, so, Jake, there’s a website called Traxson, and it reports that there are over 250 startups in the electric aircraft industry. There are also well-established companies, such as BAE Systems, that are now in this market as well. What makes Beta Technologies different? In other words, what’s your competitive advantage?

Jake Goldman: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think a couple of things. First of all, there are a lot of folks in this industry who are doing really awesome work and, frankly, as an industry, we all need to work together to advance the ball to bring us to an electric aviation future lower cost for operators and more sustainable, really focused on the core enabling technologies for electric aviation propulsion systems, battery systems, charging infrastructure, and then obviously, you build an airframe and a structure and all the other elements around those systems. But those are really the key enabling technologies and that’s where the thrust of our focus is and has been, I think, in terms of how we’re different, there are a lot of folks in the space that are really focused on this concept of urban air mobility, air taxis, right which I’m sure your listeners have heard about. We think there’s a real market there too. We just think it’s going to take a little bit longer. The other piece I’ll mention is we’re the only company out there right now that’s deploying charging infrastructure to support the advent of electric aviation right, charging infrastructure to support the advent of electric aviation.

We’re in 20 sites today, with a bunch more that are in development and in the permitting process across the country. And these chargers work not only for our aircraft but other aircraft as well as ground vehicles. So think about an airport. I mean, I’m sitting at the Burlington Airport right now. They’ve just electrified their entire ground fleet on the airport, so all the airport vehicles are now electric. They can use our charging infrastructure to charge up their ground vehicles and they’ve also, by installing our infrastructure, set themselves up for the future, which is electric aircraft coming into this airfield and the infrastructure is already in the ground. And you look at what’s happened with charging infrastructure on the ground side, where there’s a little bit of catch up going on right. There’s a bunch of electric cars out there now, but the infrastructure isn’t quite there for full adoption. We see an opportunity to get ahead of that here with electric aviation and by putting this infrastructure in the ground. You’ve got a use case right now and you’re also preparing for the future a use case right now and you’re also preparing for the future.

Steve Melito: So, Jake, last December, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced that Beta Technologies will partner with Clinton County on a $41 million expansion at Plattsburgh International Airport. Can you tell us some of the details of this partnership and what it entails?

Jake Goldman: You know, we started flight testing in Plattsburgh almost as soon as we had something to flight test. So six or seven years ago we took out a little bit of space in a hangar at the Plattsburgh airport and so we’ve had a footprint there pretty much over the extent of our business, and the state and county have been just awesome partners as we’ve grown as a business and developed. And so what this next phase looks like is, you know, here in Vermont we’ll be doing manufacturing and final assembly of the aircraft. We fly those aircraft over to Plattsburgh where we’ll be doing our flight test program, maintenance program for any final maintenance work that needs to be done. Paint on the aircraft will happen in Plattsburgh and then a customer delivery center. So when UPS comes to pick up their first Aaliyah aircraft, that will be happening in Plattsburgh as a result of this partnership with the county and the state.

Steve Melito: Excellent, and as part of the agreement to expand operations at Plattsburgh, your company’s committed to creating 85 full-time jobs. Can you tell us about the type of jobs you plan to create in this age of workforce challenges? Is there a pipeline of talent available to fill them?

Jake Goldman: So, in terms of the jobs that we’ll be looking to hire for over the next few years, everything from. You know I mentioned the aircraft painting. So we’ll be looking for folks on the paint booth side, paint booth technicians, managers and folks kind of really that are going to see that painting process from end to end. And, by the way, that sounds relatively simple but actually there’s a whole certification that individuals need to go through to be able to paint aircraft in a way that the FAA approves of, and so making sure we’ve got the right folks in those spots is really important. And then we’ll be hiring A&P mechanics who will be working on the aircraft, doing any flight test maintenance that needs to be done. We’ll have flight test pilots who will be doing the testing of the aircraft before it gets delivered, and then, obviously, customer service folks and other folks that will be customer facing for those acceptance visits when they come up to pick up their aircraft. So it’ll be a pretty wide array, a little bit technical and a little bit more external facing as well and on the pipeline. You know Clinton County has an incredible pedigree when it comes to manufacturing technicians, and just the way that they’ve embraced new technology and forward-looking technology goes well beyond beta. And so for us there is that pipeline there and there’s the enthusiasm there and we’re working with the county and local technical schools to develop that further. So I’ll give you an example We’ve partnered with Champlain Valley Technical School on a paint blue training program where our team has developed the curriculum. We’ve worked with the teachers at CB Tech, conducted an initial pilot program with four students, and those students are now certified to paint aircraft. Now we hope that they can come and do that for Beta, but they could also go do it for Boeing or for Airbus or for Embrair, and so that just creates opportunity. And so that’s one example, but there are a bunch of them, both on the Vermont side and the New York side where we’ve been able to partner with technical schools to help develop this pipeline and further this pipeline. But what you need first of all, as you know, Steve, is you need a community that’s willing to embrace and get behind what you’re doing. And I just can’t say enough about what Plattsburgh and the county and the state frankly is how much they’ve gotten behind what we’re doing.

Steve Melito: That’s fantastic. Now, of course, Beta Technologies is headquartered in Vermont, a state that I love. I used to live in Randolph here.

Jake Goldman: Oh really?

Steve Melito: Yeah, home of Vermont Technical College, so you may find some employees there. Aside from the grant, why engage New York State when you could have opened a flight center anywhere, let’s say in Florida, to get away in the winter?

Jake Goldman: Yeah, that’s right. From the day that we went over to Plattsburgh the first time and met with Chris Krieg, we’ve just had tremendous partners in the state and for any project like this you know, especially six years ago, when we’re eight people just saying, hey, we want to, we’re building this electric airplane. Can we come test it in your hangar? You know, the enthusiasm and excitement for what we’re doing has just been a huge piece of the puzzle for us, and we’ve found more resonance in the community as we’ve continued to grow from local technical schools to small businesses, to elected officials and otherwise. And so when you’ve got that bow wave behind you, you want to continue to build on that. And the other piece which I alluded to before you know the manufacturing and technical pedigree in Clinton County exists. They know how to support and work with businesses like ours, especially as we make this transition from an R&D business into a manufacturing business. They’ve seen this before and have provided awesome guidance to us as we’ve made this transition. And so you know the grant obviously is a hugely important piece of the puzzle, but without some of this other support it would have been a much more difficult decision.

Steve Melito: And Jake, I should give a shout out here to Joel Wood and everybody at the North Country Chamber of Commerce, especially NAMTRANS. That’s how we connected originally.

Jake Goldman: That’s exactly right. And you know, the chamber has just been a force, as you know, Steve, in terms of advocating for the county and really giving the county an outsized voice in the community and otherwise. And, yeah, as you pointed out, they’ve been great connectors.

Steve Melito: For sure. Now your story at Beta Technologies. I’m going to say it’s bigger than New York State, it’s bigger than Vermont, it’s bigger than the US. In fact, one of the advantages that New York State’s North Country has its proximity to Montreal, which is the world’s third largest aerospace hub. Yeah, how will your success as a company help New York State manufacturers who want to do more business in Canada?

Jake Goldman: Yeah, so you mentioned the chamber before and this is one of the places where the chamber has really focused and it’s been hugely beneficial to us but also, I think, to the rest of the North Country community. They’ve built some incredibly strong bridges between Quebec and Canada more broadly and what’s going on here, creating that flow on the supply chain side, but also just more generally when it comes to commerce between the two regions. So, when it comes to us, we hope to just be able to build on the work that’s being done. We hope to just be able to build on the work that’s being done. We have a facility in Montreal at the airport. There, about 80 folks strong really focused on the structure of the aircraft Because of that aviation pedigree that you mentioned. We saw a great opportunity there. So, as we think about what’s going on in Quebec and Montreal, what’s going on in Plattsburgh, what’s going on here in Burlington, we really are looking at this through the lens of an electrified corridor. Right, how do we create an ecosystem for the electrification of transportation? And again, it’s not just us. Look at what Alstom is doing, look at what some of these other manufacturers are doing. But we think just opening those lines of communication with the chamber’s lead frankly, will only just lift all the boats right. We want to create an ecosystem, and that ecosystem is good for everybody. It’s not just about beta you know, the more manufacturers come to Clinton County, the better it is for everybody. The more business being done between Quebec and New York and Quebec and Vermont that triangle, the better, and so we just hope to build on the awesome work that the chamber and others have been doing to date.

Steve Melito: Excellent, hey, Jake. Last question yeah, how do New York State companies who want to get into your supply chain do so? What steps do they need to take?

Jake Goldman: It’s very simple. They should reach out to purchasing at beta team and our purchasing and supply chain team should introduce themselves what they do and our purchasing and supply chain team will take a look, see if there’s a fit there and kick off the process from there. So purchasing at payout team, it’s that simple and our folks will kind of see what’s going on.

Steve Melito: Much easier than dealing with balling your Airbuses, isn’t it?

Jake Goldman: Listen, the FAA and the regulatory environment is, rightfully, incredibly focused on ensuring that we and everybody in the industry is flying safe, reliable and repeatedly producible aircraft, and we want that too. And so you know we want to work with suppliers who understand the rigors of aviation and the rigors of production, and we’re excited to get great folks on board.

Steve Melito: Excellent, Jake. Thanks so much for being a part of New York State Manufacturing Now.

Jake Goldman: Thanks, Steve, for having me. I appreciate it.

Steve Melito: You bet. We’ve been talking to Jake Goldman of Beta Technologies this morning. Now, before you take off, make plans to land in Herkimer, New York, next month. Vitality in the Valley is just a few weeks away and the signature event is scheduled for June 4th and 5th this year. The location is Herkimer County Community College. Whether you join us as an exhibitor or as an attendee, we’d love to see you there. For more information, to sign up, go to, slash viv-2024. On behalf of New York State Manufacturing now and FuzeHub, this is Steve Melito signing off.

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