Electra this week unveiled the design for the eSTOL aircraft it intends to develop for regional air mobility applications. The Virginia-based company said it has been assessing a wide range of potential designs and will now show the model to prospective customers as it prepares to complete type certification under FAA’s existing Part 23 rules in 2026.
The hybrid-electric aircraft is designed to carry a pilot and up to seven passengers on flights of up to around 500 miles at speeds of up to 200 mph. Electra's "blown lift" technology uses the airplane’s electric-motor-driven propellers to blow air over the entire span of the wing and its flaps, allowing for takeoff and landings at speeds below 30 mph. The aircraft is expected to be able to take off and land in little more than 100 feet, allowing it to operate from small urban spaces such as rooftops and parking lots.
The aircraft will feature eight electric motors powered by a combination of batteries and a small, quiet turbogenerator that charges its batteries in midair. According to Electra, this means the aircraft will not need to rely on special charging infrastructure.
Using much less power to lift off than vertical takeoff and landing alternatives, Electra's proposed design is expected to provide more payload and room for passengers and cargo, boosting operating economics and minimizing energy consumption for the envisaged regional services.
Since it was founded in 2020, Electra has been building technology demonstrator aircraft meant to validate all relevant product technologies. It aims to have a technology demonstrator for the chosen design ready to start flight testing before the end of 2021. In December 2020, the company named North Carolina-based Blue Force Technologies as lead designer and manufacturer for the airframe. It has yet to confirm other program partners, such as propulsion and avionics systems providers.