Electra.aero, Inc. (Electra) announced that it has successfully completed the first flights of its EL-2 Goldfinch, a hybrid-electric, ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft.
"The Goldfinch completed an all-electric test flight on November 11 and a hybrid-electric flight on November 19, both piloted by Cody Allee, from the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia. The first hybrid flight lasted 23 minutes, reached an altitude of 3,200 feet, and covered a distance of approximately 30 miles," said Electra's Vice President and General Manager JP Stewart. "We're looking forward to further expanding the envelope of this aircraft and demonstrating the full capability of Electra's technology."
The two-seat Goldfinch eSTOL technology demonstrator is the world's first blown lift aircraft using distributed electric propulsion and a hybrid-electric propulsion system. 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.
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's eSTOL product is backed by strong market interest; Electra currently holds pre-orders from more than 30 customers for over 1,700 aircraft, totaling more than $6 billion in backlog. 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.
"The aim of Electra is to fill a gap in air travel between 50 and 500 miles, where most trips today are made by automobile. The key to saving time is to operate close in, which means getting in and out of small spaces quietly and safely, while still being fast enough to cover long distances," said Electra founder and CEO John Langford. "Electra will be able to take you from downtown Manhattan not only to Kennedy Airport, but to Washington, DC. It will bring air service to thousands of communities where air travel today is not a practical or affordable option. It also opens vast new opportunities for middle-mile cargo logistics."