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Aerospace company Electra debuts the world’s first hybrid-electric eSTOL (ultra-short takeoff and landing) aircraft, the EL-2 Goldfinch. It is a two-seat technology demonstrator that performed an all-electric test flight on November 11 and a groundbreaking hybrid-electric flight on November 19.
The Goldfinch is the world’s first blown lift aircraft utilizing distributed electric propulsion and a hybrid-electric system. Its eight electric motors significantly increase wing lift, allowing for ultra-short takeoffs and landings while substantially reducing noise and emissions compared to conventional aircraft and helicopters.
According to Interesting Engineering, Electra plans on introducing a nine-passenger version of the Goldfinch for commercial and government markets that can take off and land with ground rolls as short as 45 meters and speeds of 322 kph for distances of 805 km.
Electra’s founder and CEO John Langford presented the company’s vision for the future: “The aim of Electra is to fill a gap in air travel between 50 and 500 miles (80 and 800 km), where most trips today are made by automobile. Electra will be able to take you from downtown Manhattan, not only to Kennedy Airport but to Washington, DC. It will bring air service to thousands of communities where air travel today is not a practical or affordable option. It also opens vast new opportunities for middle-mile cargo logistics.”
Electra’s eSTOL technology offers not only an innovative design, but also significant environmental benefits, with a 30 percent reduction in emissions compared to traditional aircraft and extremely low noise levels equivalent to a vacuum cleaner. The aircraft’s hybrid-electric power system also eliminates the need for ground-based charging stations, thus providing long ranges and enhanced payload capacity.
The full-scale Goldfinch is expected to receive FAA certification in 2028, but even now the successful hybrid-electric flight marks a significant step towards reshaping regional air transportation. Electra is leading the way in sustainable aviation by offering a compelling solution for short to medium-haul travel challenges, and ultimately transforming how people and goods move within a region.