Dutch electric aircraft start-up Electron Aerospace is pressing ahead with a goal of securing certification and entry into service by 2028 for its five-seater Electron 5 aircraft but concedes the timing hinges on securing additional funding.

Initial design studies for the battery-powered aircraft have been completed, says co-founder and chief commercial officer Marc-Henry de Jong, but another tranche of investment will be required to complete the concept design review stage in the coming months and then advance the programme further.

Electron5_FlyingAboveParis-c-Electron Aerospace

Source: Electron Aerospace

Dutch developer is aiming for certification and service entry in 2028

“That’s really when it starts getting more expensive because that’s when you need to start investing in hardware and building stuff,” he says.

“Our timeline is really subject to accessing funding; being a product design company, technology is not what’s holding us back, access to capital is.”

Differing from others in the space, Electron does not propose building a demonstrator or prototype of the Electron 5 but instead plans to fly in 2026 a largely production-conforming aircraft.

While a demonstrator makes sense for those developing new technology or new aircraft concepts, “we don’t really need to prove that a fixed-wing aircraft can fly”, says de Jong. Fixed-wing aircraft have been flying for over 100 years, and Pipistrel has in recent years certificated a small battery-powered aircraft, he points out, referring to the Velis Elctro.

Resembling a skinnier Piaggio P180 Avanti with twin pusher propellers and forward canards, the Electron 5 also has a long, slender wing to cut drag and boost efficiency.

Suitable for both passenger and cargo transport missions, the Electron 5 has a projected operating range of 270nm (500km) with a 135nm reserve, traveling at a cruise speed of 135kt (250km/h). It will be able to carry either a pilot and four passengers plus luggage or a 500kg (1,100lb) cargo payload.

Short runway performance, key to Electron’s regional air mobility model, will see the aircraft capable of taking off and landing in as little as 500m (1,640ft), requiring 800m runway length for commercial operations.

Electron5_ParkedatAirport-c-Electron Aerospace

Source: Electron Aerospace

Electron 5 has a projected operating range of 270nm, with a 135nm reserve

Notionally a six-seater aircraft, Electron has opted to reduce the passenger count for its initial version due to the power density limitations of current battery technology. However, the firm is confident that improvements to later generations of cells will allow it to lift seat count and performance accordingly.

De Jong sees both passenger and freight operations as contributing to the aircraft’s success. It has already secured an undisclosed investment from Danish logistics firm DANX Carousel Group, which in turn has helped with the design of the cargo variant.

Meanwhile, Electron has also won tentative orders for an undisclosed number of aircraft from four operators: Australia’s FlyOnE and South Korean firm Mint Air, and, more recently, Berlin-based Air2E and Hopscotch Air from Farmingdale in New York. The last of these – which describes itself as a “personal air limo service” – is an existing operator of small Cirrus types, flying short routes on the eastern seaboard of the USA.

A switch to an all-electric fleet will allow operators to both improve their environmental performance and provide “an operating cost advantage which in our view will open up the market to a much wider customer base”, says de Jong.

But Electron wants to move beyond simply supplying the aircraft and also become an operator in Europe, he adds.

Much of the aircraft’s supply chain is already firmed up, albeit undisclosed, with other agreements “in their final stages”, allowing Electron to consider the final assembly process.

“We will start small but the idea in the end is that we want to produce a few thousand, not a few hundred, aircraft a year; we really believe there’s a huge market,” adds de Jong.