Virginia, USA-based Electra plans to start flight testing a full scale demonstrator of its hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft later this year after receiving investment from Lockheed Martin.
Electra’s hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) is designed to operate from spaces as small as 300 x 100ft using a patent-pending distributed electric propulsion and blown lift technology.
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.
The aircraft’s hybrid propulsion system uses a small turbine-powered generator to recharge the batteries during flight, eliminating the need for new ground charging infrastructure.
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.
Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures said, “Electra’s technical approach to sustainable aviation is differentiated, and we are excited to see this concept mature. We invested in Electra because of its focus on hybrid-electric technology.
“Hybrid-electric aircraft have the potential to deliver operational and environmental advantages over other aircraft, including increased payload and range without gambling on battery improvements. We look forward to working with the Electra team and hope to partner on opportunities in the future.”
John S. Langford, founder and CEO of Electra said, “Hybrid-electric propulsion will influence every aspect of aviation. We are excited to welcome Lockheed Martin Ventures as one of our strategic and key investors in our Series A funding round. Lockheed Martin is a leader in aerospace and defense, and we believe this relationship is a complementary one for Electra and Lockheed Martin. We’re honored to have them on our team.”
Electra has worked with NASA to develop its blown lift propulsion technology and the company is also part of US Air Force Agility Prime program.