Beta flights are a comprehensive test bed not just for the customer experience, but also to validate the assumptions we made in our operating model and financial forecast.
Our original model assumed a one-on-one training and flight experience between a pilot and flight instructor. As many of our pilots booked and arrived in groups, we tested a group training and flying model, with up to four pilots training simultaneously.
We were excited to learn that the group model proved to be much more fun and exciting for the participants. It also allowed us to fly up to four flights per hour, per aircraft, versus our originally forecast two flights per hour. As you can imagine, this has major implications for the potential profitability of LIFT’s business.
What are Beta Flights?
The transition from Alpha testing to the Beta flight program was significant for LIFT. Launched in 2022 with Anderson Cooper’s flight on 60 Minutes, we’ve now opened the program up to qualified investors who are engaging in the Beta flight experience each week in preparation for our upcoming commercial launch (expected before the end of 2023).
The start of Beta flights was contingent upon two things: complete testing of the beginner flight envelope, and sign off by LIFT’s safety advisory board. The former was done alongside the United States Air Force under several contracts totaling over $5M. The latter involved a thorough review of LIFT’s Safety Master Plan and flight operations. Board approval was enthusiastic and unanimous, with advisors lining up for their flights.
A recent group of Beta pilots at LIFT's Operations Center near Austin, TX (2023)
With beginner flight envelope testing complete, the focus during Beta flights has shifted to our ongoing commitment to providing a first-class pilot experience, in its entirety. While safety and maneuver testing of the beginner flight envelope is complete, we are testing all of the customer-facing systems, from booking to exiting the parking lot post-flight.
The flight experience itself is being evaluated and adjusted according to Beta pilot feedback. Pre-flight of the aircraft by the Pilot in Command (in our case, the customer), effectiveness of training (a classroom setting tutorial and VR flight simulator), equipment, the in-flight communications system, and the various aspects of the flight envelope (height, speed, maneuvers, takeoff, landing).
We’re testing our operations in totality. As we ramp up for paid customer flights, including the US Tour, we are creating a turnkey operations template without sacrificing safety standards or superior service to the consumer. And no detail is too small.
We expect to transition from Beta to our commercial launch in 2023. And there are about 15,000 people on our waitlists who couldn’t be happier!