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June 23, 2021

Electra Aero signs contract with USAF for eSTOL aircraft development

Electra’s electric ultra-short take-off and landing aircraft is designed to take off in less than 150ft.

Mobility aircraft company Electra Aero has been awarded a contract by the US Air Force (USAF) for electric ultra-short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft development.

The contract, which will contribute to advancing air mobility, will involve the development of hybrid-electric propulsion systems for the aircraft.

Electra Technology and Innovation director Ben Marchionna said: “Electra is thrilled to be working in tandem with the US Air Force and its innovative Agility Prime team to accelerate the tech transition of eSTOL into the commercial marketplace.

“These next-gen, low-carbon systems will solve several critical defence-related capability gaps while leveraging affordable commercial marketplace solutions.”

With a capability to take off in less than 150ft, Electra’s eSTOL aircraft uses distributed hybrid-electric propulsion and blown lift.

It offers about three times the payload capacity and nearly 50% of the operating costs of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) alternatives.

Electra noted that its first propulsion system produces 150kW of electrical power and includes a small gas turbine and several custom components.

Ground testing of the system is scheduled this year and flight testing on the company’s technology demonstrator aircraft is planned for next year.

Agility Prime deputy lead major John ‘Wasp’ Tekell said: “Agility Prime is excited to partner with Electra on their recent Phase II SBIR contract award.

“We look forward to exploring the unique capabilities of this design while continuing to accelerate the electric aviation industry.”

Meanwhile, Electra’s first commercial product is designed to carry up to seven passengers and a pilot as far as 500 miles. This aircraft’s Federal Aviation Administration certification is planned for 2026.

In December last year, USAF’s AFWERX Agility Prime team said it reached several milestones for the ‘flying car’ programme.

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