Virginia, USA-based Electra, a startup developing a hybrid-electric ultra short take-off and landing aircraft has acquired California-based Airflow.
Both Electra and Airflow have been building blown-lift, hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft for so-called advanced air mobility (AAM) applications, such as cargo and passenger transport.
An eSTOL aircraft offers the opportunity to operate at a greater range than many eVTOL aircraft are expected to because it retains more aspects of a fixed-wing design, while offering the flexibility of a a helicopter.
Electra is to consolidate Airflow’s eSTOL business under the Electra brand and integrate its staff, backlog of letters of intent and strategic partnerships into its own activities.
Marc Ausman, co-founder and CEO of Airflow said, “The Airflow team and the Electra team both have deep experience in the development and testing of battery-powered aircraft. This experience convinced us that physics and the economics both strongly favor a solution that uses a wing throughout the full flight versus a rotor-borne vertical takeoff and transition.
“Distributed electric propulsion allows us to take off and land within two vehicle lengths to access parking-lot sized spaces.”
“This solution offers not only lower costs but a much more straightforward path to certification than vertical lift variants. We look forward to continuing our mission to develop such a vehicle as part of the Electra team.”
In a blown lift system the propellers blow air over the entire span of a wing and its flaps and turn the airflow downwards to help accomplish shorter takeoffs at significantly reduced speeds.
Electra’s aircraft is being designed to transport up to 1,800 lbs (816kg) of cargo or carry seven to nine passengers up to 500 miles (800km) for use in urban environments and remote landing strips. Potential applications include on-demand intracity flights, medical missions, cargo transportation and scheduled passenger services.
John Langford, founder and CEO of Electra said, “There are dozens of aspiring entrants in the AAM market. The acquisition of Airflow complements Electra’s team, our sales pipeline, and technology portfolio which will allow customers to select the best solution to their needs in a rapidly expanding market.
“This acquisition will allow Electra to grow and scale more quickly.”
The acquisition places Electra’s order book at almost 800 units, beyond break-even for commercial development according to the company.
Electra and Airflow are both privately held and terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Electra is backed by Lockheed Martin and is also working with NASA to develop its blown-lift technology.