US hybrid-electric aircraft developer Electra has taken early deposits from helicopter specialist Bristow Group for five of its proposed short take-off and landing (eSTOL) aircraft.
The Virginia-based start-up said on 29 November that Bristow secured the early delivery positions with plans to eventually use Electra’s eSTOL for regional passenger service.
“This cash deposit is a real show of confidence in our eSTOL aircraft and a validation of our development road map,” says John Langford, Electra’s chief executive. ”Bristow is a true AAM leader, and we look forward with anticipation to the future delivery of our aircraft to Bristow’s fleet.”
In 2021, Bristow signed a memorandum of understanding to become the principal launch customer for Electra’s aircraft, with a pre-order of up to 50 of the “blown-lift” vehicles. The companies did not specify how much Bristow deposited for the first five aircraft.
”Bristow looks forward to being among the first advanced air mobility companies to add the Electra eSTOL aircraft to our fleet and offer our customers the advantages of this new class of aircraft,” says chief transformation officer Dave Stepanek.
The aircraft uses eight propellers to create additional wing lift and enable “ultra-short take-offs and landings at slow speed”, Electra says. ”Compared to vertical take-off alternatives, the aircraft can deliver over twice the payload over much longer distances, and at much lower operating costs.”
Seating two pilots and nine passengers, Electra’s eventual production aircraft will be capable of taking off on a runway as short as 45m (150ft) and reaching speeds of 322km/h (200mph).
Electra’s two-seat EL-2 Goldfinch prototype recently got off the ground for the first time with a pair of piloted flights at Manassas Regional airport in Virginia.
The company intends to clear certification and begin delivering aircraft to customers in 2028.
The start-up says it has secured some 1,600 tentative aircraft orders through letters of intent, with a total value exceeding $6 billion.