U.S.-based company Electra and flyv, a German regional air-mobility startup, have teamed up to revolutionize air transportation in Europe. Up to 100 Electra hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft are expected to service intercity routes, providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution.
Recently, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles and eSTOLs have become more popular as sustainable mobility ideas. While we won't see any of them take over our skies too soon, multiple companies are already making great strides to speed up the process of building an infrastructure that would allow the aircraft to operate in the cities.
eSTOLs, unlike their siblings, need some space in order to soar to the skies, although they require a much shorter runway than traditional aircraft. Electra's fixed-wing plane operates on runways that are no longer than 300 feet (91 meters). That's thanks to a mix of proven blown lift technology, hybrid-electric power, and distributed propulsion.
The aircraft has eight electric motors that are powered by batteries and a small turbogenerator. Because the batteries are designed to be recharged mid-flight, the eSTOL will not require any special charging infrastructure. It also features a minimized carbon footprint and lower operating costs than traditional planes.
Electra's goal is to use significantly less energy for take off than other eVTOLs, allowing for more passengers and cargo to be carried. In terms of performance, the company says that its plane can cruise at speeds of less than 30 mph (48 kph) and reach a top speed of 200 mph (322 kph). It also boasts a long range, being able to transport seven passengers, including a pilot over a distance of 500 miles (805 km).
As part of the partnership with Electra, flyv will purchase 100 eSTOLs and will start operating them between airports. Once a system is established, the business intends to offer point-to-point intercity travel and will use the aircraft's ability to take off and land in places that were initially inaccessible for traditional planes.
Electra's eSTOL is currently only a design, although the company has stated that it is working on a technology demonstrator aircraft. Next year, the full-scale demonstrator will begin flight testing for the first time in the U.S.