Private Aviation specialist Elit’Avia has added another eight aircraft to its existing 20-unit order for Aura Aero’s hybrid-electric Electric Regional Aircraft (ERA).

To be configured in a VIP layout with eight to nine seats, the additional eight aircraft will join Elit’Avia’s US fleet, says Michel Coulomb, chief executive. The Maltese firm recently announced an expansion into the USA, acquiring Newburgh, New York-based Pioneer Business Services.

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Source: BillyPix

Aura Aero president Caussade (left) and Elit’Avia’s Coulomb celebrate expanded order

“In line with our business model and development plan to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, this is the direction we have decided to take and go with another eight aircraft.”

Elit’Avia signed an initial letter of intent for 20 aircraft in September last year. It hopes to turn around half of the total into firm orders “within two to three months”, adds Coulomb.

Jeremy Caussade, president and chief engineer of the Toulouse-headquartered firm, says it has identified three main markets for the ERA: commuter shuttles, cargo and VIP.

In the latter case, he sees an opportunity to “match decarbonisation and doing business”.

“We have to work together to make it happen,” he adds.

In addition, Caussade sees potential to use the fly-by-wire-equipped ERA as a future trainer aircraft for military pilots: “They have to go on a modern aircraft before they go on something like the A400M.”

Special forces support missions could also benefit from a “more quiet, more modern, more reliable aircraft”, he argues.

Caussade hopes to finalise the ERA’s supply chain by year-end as it move towards a 2026 first flight. Service entry is envisaged “before 2030”.

At present, Safran is supporting development of the type’s hybrid-electric powertrain but there is no decision yet on whether the French company will supply the production aircraft, says chief technical officer Gwenola Robert.

With the latest agreement Aura Aero’s backlog now stretches to 338 aircraft, around 25% of which is accounted for by the business aviation segment.

The company is confident of adding another 30 aircraft to its orderbook by the end of the show.