Electra's hybrid test aircraft achieves first ultra-short eSTOL takeoff and landing

May 30, 2024
Electra’s eSTOL test aircraft took off in less than 170 ft and landed in under 114 ft ground roll, flying as slowly as 25 kts on takeoff and landing.

MANASSAS, Va. - Electra.aero, Inc. in Manassas, Va., announced that it has successfully achieved the first high-performance ultra-short flight operations of its piloted blown-lift hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) demonstrator aircraft (EL-2 Goldfinch).

"Today's milestone is an incredible achievement as we've proven that our eSTOL aircraft has the capability to do what we said it could do – operate from spaces shorter than 300 feet," said JP Stewart, Electra Vice President and General Manager. "The aircraft handling at low-speeds has been exceptional and is matching our analysis well, building confidence in the predicted capability of the 9-passenger product design. We'll continue to develop our technologies, including the "thrust-by-wire" flight control system to allow us to fly even slower on approach and further improve the STOL takeoff and landing performance in the ongoing test campaign."

The test flights, piloted by Cody Allee, took place through April and May 2024 at the Manassas Regional Airport and Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in Virginia. The longest flight lasted 1 hour 43 minutes. During the campaign, the aircraft took off in less than 170 ft and landed in under 114 ft ground roll, the aircraft reached an altitude of 6,500 feet, and it flew as slowly as 25 kts on takeoff and landing. Data and insights gained from the flight test program will inform the design of Electra's 9-passenger commercial eSTOL aircraft, with entry into commercial service under FAA Part 23 regulations targeted for 2028. 

Related: U.S. Navy to explore use of Electra.aero's commercial-focused eSTOL for logistics

Electra's blown-lift design uses eight electric motors to increase wing lift, allowing the eSTOL aircraft to take off and land in just 1/10th of the space needed by conventional aircraft. Electra says this enables access to locations that only helicopters can currently reach. Hybrid-electric power provides long-range capability without the need for ground-based charging stations.

"The aim of Electra is to fill a gap in air travel between 50 and 500 miles, where most trips today are made by automobile. The key to saving time is to operate close in, which means getting in and out of small spaces quietly and safely, while still being fast enough to cover long distances," said Electra founder and CEO John Langford in late 2023. "Electra will be able to take you from downtown Manhattan not only to Kennedy Airport, but to Washington, DC. It will bring air service to thousands of communities where air travel today is not a practical or affordable option. It also opens vast new opportunities for middle-mile cargo logistics."

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