Taking a step toward its vision of creating an ecosystem of door-to-door travel that supports supersonic flight, Aerion Supersonic this week formed a partnership with a start-up called Electra, which is developing electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft. Aerion says it is on track for its AS2 supersonic business jet to enter service by 2027.
Back in June, Aerion chairman Tom Vice outlined plans for the company’s Aerion Connective initiative, which involves the development of a global ecosystem of transportation, including eSTOL and eVTOL aircraft, to get customers to and from the airport to provide a smoother, faster experience from beginning to end.
As part of that strategy, Aerion has now signed a memorandum of understanding naming Electra as a preferred partner for Aerion Connect in the greater New York metropolitan area and other potential regional hubs. “We’re… clear that enabling this reinvented, faster ecosystem will require world-class partners to achieve success,” Vice said. “I’m delighted to launch this partnership with Electra and their new generation of eSTOLs, which with their large cabin, optimal range, speed, and emissions capabilities, will integrate seamlessly into our vision of the future.”
Founded and headed by John Langford, who formerly had founded and led Aurora Flight Sciences, Electra has ambitions for fixed-wing regional mobility aircraft that use a powered lift concept to operate in and out of spaces that are used for parking garages, helicopter terminals, or barges. Aurora Flight Sciences is now owned by Boeing and working on an eVTOL project called simply Passenger Air Vehicle, although the status of this program is unclear.
“Aerion and Electra offer the perfect combination of speed and convenience,” Langford said. “Electra’s powered-lift aircraft can bring air service to areas of less than 100 feet. This will open new opportunities to connect urban, suburban, and remote areas.”
Electra’s plans include a distributed electric propulsion system that involves the use of many small motors mounted around the aircraft, saying this provides for a more fully integrated structure and aerodynamics. In addition, Electra is looking at pilot-assistance systems, using guidance and control technologies in use for autonomous vehicles, to enable high-precision landings that would come with operating out of smaller spaces.
However, the Virginia-based company has provided no further details as to the projected performance of its planned eSTOL model, nor has it reported how far along development work has progressed.