MintAir this week took a new step toward its goal of operating scheduled regional air services in South Korea by signing a letter of intent to buy 50 of Electra’s planned nine-passenger eSTOL aircraft. Initially, the company says, it will operate the fixed-wing aircraft, which is expected to be able to land and take off in as little as 300 feet, from existing airports as new infrastructure becomes available in and around cities.
The Electra hybrid-electric eSTOL is expected to be able to operate on routes of up to 500 miles (800 km) and could carry 1,800 pounds of cargo instead of passengers. According to MintAir, from its initial operating hub in Seongnam City (a suburb of the capital, Seoul), it will be able to reach anywhere in Korea, including the remote islands of Jejudo and Ulleungdo.
Seongnam City in Gyeonggi province is just over 16 miles from Seoul’s downtown Gangnam district. It is at the heart of the so-called Korean Silicon Valley with its concentration of high-tech companies.
MintAir says it to start taking deliveries of the aircraft in 2026 or 2027, depending on the pace of progress with the type certification process. It said the letter of intent signed with Electra will become a purchase agreement once certification is complete.
“Our mission is to develop the safest advanced air mobility service in both urban and regional routes, contributing to decarbonization of the aviation industry,” said MintAir CEO and co-founder Eugene Choi. “We selected Electra’s eSTOL because of its superior safety, the energy-saving lift efficiency of its blown-lift technology, lower operating costs, and the clear path to certification as a fixed-wing aircraft.”
In September, Electra completed ground testing of its 150 kW hybrid-electric propulsion system and reported that it is now integrating the equipment into a piloted technology demonstrator aircraft that it expects to take to the air for the first time before the end of this year. The U.S. company says that it has 20 prospective customers for the eSTOL model, with commitments also made by helicopter group Bristow, and charter flight booking platforms Yugo in Singapore, Flapper in Brazil, and Flyv in Germany. In June, it joined forces with another eSTOL aircraft developer called Airflow, which it acquired.
The agreement with Electra announced on September 27 came just under a month after Incheon-based MintAir signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 40 of Jaunt Air Mobility’s four-passenger Journey eVTOL aircraft and become the U.S. manufacturer’s exclusive partner in Korea. This aircraft is expected to operate on routes of up to around 100 miles.
MintAir was founded in 2014, initially as a developer of superheat conductors that it supplied to major companies such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. It refocused its activities on electric aviation in June 2021 when it signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. company Skyworks Aeronautics for exclusive rights to its eHawk electric gyrocopter.
Along with MintAir co-founder and chief strategy officer Jongwon Park, Choi also runs a California-based affiliate company called Mobius Energy that is developing mobile charging stations for vertiports. Park told FutureFlight Mobius is in talks with Electra over possibly using this equipment, for which Skyworks is already the launch customer.
Electra also announced this week that it has recently made a first flight with its Dawn One uncrewed solar-electric research aircraft from its facility in Manassas, Virginia. The aircraft, which took to the air on September 9, is part of the Stratospheric Airborne Climate Observing System, led by Harvard University and with funding from NASA and the Weld Foundation for Scientific and Environmental Development.