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

April 29, 2024
Last fall, Electra.aero announced it had completed the first flights of its EL-2 Goldfinch eSTOL hybrid aircraft.

MANASSAS, Va., - Electra.aero, Inc. in Manassas, Va. announced that the U.S. Navy has awarded Electra a contract under the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to explore the use of Electra's electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft as a next-generation aviation solution for logistics in a contested environment.

In this study, Electra will work with Navy stakeholders to define specific contested logistics use cases and conduct a conceptual design study to evaluate how its hybrid-electric eSTOL aircraft can address unique Navy capability gaps. Contested logistics, a key topic of national security interest, essentially refers to the movement of military personnel or supplies to and from areas which are challenging to reach or support.

Last fall, Electra.aero announced it had completed the first flights of its EL-2 Goldfinch eSTOL hybrid aircraft. The aircraft uses eight electric motors to significantly increase wing lift and enable ultra-short takeoffs and landings while dramatically reducing noise and emissions below those of conventional aircraft and helicopters. Hybrid-electric power provides long ranges without the need for ground-based charging stations.

Related: Electra.aero and Surf Air Mobility will operate and lease hybrid-electric aircraft

Electra is developing a nine-passenger version of the aircraft for commercial and government markets that can take off and land with ground rolls as short as 150 feet and fly at speeds of 200 mph for distances of 500 miles.

Electra will develop a prototype of a full-scale pre-production eSTOL aircraft under a previously announced strategic funding partnership valued up to $85 million with the U.S. Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime Program. Certification and entry into commercial service under FAA Part 23 regulations is targeted for 2028.  

"We're honored to add the U.S. Navy to our portfolio of U.S. Department of Defense customers, including the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army," said Ben Marchionna, Electra's Director of Technology and Innovation. "Electra's eSTOL has all the right technology-enabled capabilities to help the Navy address next-generation aviation logistics challenges. With our differentiated combination of hybrid-electric propulsion and a blown fixed wing, we can offer Pacific theater-relevant payloads and ranges, and the ability to operate from rough soccer field-sized spaces as well as many naval vessels and adjacent assets, all from day one. Beyond boilerplate tactical logistics use cases, we also see this airplane as an enabler for expeditionary power generation, mesh networking, and even as an essential node for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) employment. These are all gamechangers for force modernization initiatives within the Navy and Marine Corps."

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