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IPFS News Link • Transportation

Watch: High-tech eSTOL aircraft hardly needs any runway

•, By Loz Blain

Watch it deliver in its first STOL test flight.

While alien-looking eVTOL aircraft are stealing the headlines, Electra's slightly more conventional approach is beating the likes of Joby, Archer, Lilium and Vertical Aerospace on pre-sales. Indeed, we pointed out in January that this company's pre-order book was already more than eight times the annual revenue of Cessna. So the industry certainly seems to believe in this project.

The nine-seat Electra aircraft itself looks reasonably normal at first glance, but there are enough departures from a standard airframe to make some remarkable promises.

The eight small-diameter, five-bladed propellers along its wing run on quiet electric motors, fed by a big enough lithium battery pack to allow fully-electric takeoff and landing, and quiet flight over populated areas that you'll struggle to hear over traffic; Electra promises just 75 decibels at a distance of 300 ft (91 m), making it pretty neighbor-friendly as aircraft go.

A range-extending generator stops it from running totally clean on longer flights – but it'll actually allow longer flights, which fully electric aircraft will simply be unable to match until the next leap in battery technology. Electra promises cruise speeds around 200 mph (322 km/h) and a range around 500 miles (805 km) on top of a 45-minute reserve.

The efficient hybrid system should cut fuel burn by as much as 40% on a 100-mile (161-km) flight – although we'd imagine that figure will drop substantially on longer flights where the generator spends more time running.