Ultra-short takeoff and landing plane rakes in $8 billion in pre-orders

Ultra-short takeoff and landing plane rakes in $8 billion in pre-orders
The nine-seat Electra hybrid STOL is scheduled for entry into service in 2028
The nine-seat Electra hybrid STOL is scheduled for entry into service in 2028
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The nine-seat Electra hybrid STOL is scheduled for entry into service in 2028
The nine-seat Electra hybrid STOL is scheduled for entry into service in 2028
A two-seat demonstrator entered flight tests in November 2023
A two-seat demonstrator entered flight tests in November 2023

In all the buzz around eVTOLs, there's still plenty of appetite for more conventional electric planes – especially, it seems, if they make ludicrous amounts of lift, and can take off and land at incredibly slow speeds, using absolutely tiny runways.

Electra's hybrid-electric STOL (short takeoff and landing) aircraft is one such plane. When it hits the market, it'll carry nine passengers, and a pilot, plus luggage, up to 500 miles (805 km) at a cruise speed around 200 mph (322 km/h). It'll run eight electric props along the leading edge of the wings, as well as large flaps hanging from the trailing edges. This allows a "blown lift" aerodynamic effect powerful enough that it'll lift off at a speed of just 35 mph (56 km/h).

Why eSTOL?

And it'll accelerate to that speed quickly – meaning that you can use a runway smaller than a soccer pitch. Electra says it'll operate from airfields as small as 300 x 100 ft (92 x 31 m), and in the video above, seems to imply that'll fit on the top of some buildings. Either way, it's one-tenth the size of a standard runway, so even if these things won't open up as many spaces as eVTOLs, they'll still be extremely flexible.

Plus, as investors are no doubt pleased to note, it functions more or less as a regular plane, so the path to certification and commercial deployment should be much smoother and easier to navigate, with plenty of precedents and fewer unknowns than the eVTOL teams face.

Electra First Hybrid Electric Flight

Electra flew a two-seat prototype in November, as shown in the video above, and it'll continue flight tests as it works on a full-scale nine-seat prototype that's scheduled to fly in 2026. The target date for certification and entry into service is sometime in 2028.

And the market is listening, it seems. Electra says it's taken pre-orders for more than 2,000 aircraft, worth more than US$8 billion. That's considerably higher than the biggest pre-seller in the eVTOL field – Vertical Aerospace, which has 1,500 aircraft pre-sold for a total over $5 billion.

That's pretty fascinating – eSTOL represents a much more conventional approach with far less disruptive, world-changing potential than eVTOLs, which in theory could have us zooming from rooftop to rooftop in and around urban areas within a few years.

But the market likes this small-runway, half-electric, nine-passenger, regional-capable proposition enough to sign $8 billion dollars' worth of pre-orders – eight times as much revenue as Cessna brings in a year, according to Growjo. Seems odd to us, but such are the times!

Source: Electra

There’s nothing odd about designing and producing an aircraft that will change the lives of heaven knows how many people who do not currently have access to anything approaching this kind of transportation, and at a purchase and operating operating cost - and therefore ticket prices - that makes sense.
Electric VTOLs are extremely inefficient and until there are huge advances in battery technology, they will likely be a relatively small market as 100 mile range EVTOL operators discover that their market may not be quite as large as their rather optimistic projections.
Rocky Stefano
@Robt I would completely agree. Until solid state batteries are the new fashion I wouldn't even think of flying these aircraft in the winter.
@Rocky Stefano @Robt Don't forget, this is a hybrid system. The batteries are charged onboard by an ICE engine, providing instant charging for as long as there is fuel. Colder temperature? Bigger fuel tank and one less passenger..
IF it's a hybrid and runs on aviation fuels no thanks. WE need solid state battery only planes. There will be numerous models soon that have 500 miles of range with some up to 1750 miles using conventional takeoff distances. That particular plane is already doing 500 miles or range with current batteries. With solid state is will be capable of doing almost any domestic flights with 1 stop (mid-country Kansas to CA or Mine is under 1500 miles or thereabout). Were talking just 2 to 3 more years when solid state batteries will be ready especially from QuantumScape and Solid Power.
Right On Vince
Good to see investors "vote with their valets" - creating the technology demonstrator prototype (and releasing the videos!) has been the right policy. (Maybe a lesson for some other, big name competitors who talk much and show very little.) Nice plane and a convincing flight test!
Jim B
Why is the shorter take off so important? Do airfields cost an absolute fortune per square meter to build?
Short take offs and landings is the future. It opens up a whole new dimension.
Jim B
Ok I've read a bit more on other sites. These planes are effectively helicopters as they can take off from a tiny area with the flight speed and efficiency of small planes.
I'd cut 2 motors and make the other 6 props as large as possible for more efficiency, range, shorter take off. More wing cord/area, for shorter, slower landing, takeoff speeds, more range, payload/battery.
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