Electra completes hybrid-electric propulsion system tests for eSTOL aircraft

Avatar for Jen NevansBy Jen Nevans | September 8, 2022

Estimated reading time 3 minutes, 22 seconds.

Electra.aero said it has completed a fully-integrated test of its proprietary hybrid-electric propulsion system for its eSTOL aircraft.

Electra’s hybrid system uses a combination of high-power battery packs and a turbogenerator to power eight electric motors and propellers. Electra.aero Image

An Electra spokesperson told eVTOL.com that the hybrid system was sized to support flight testing with its two-seat piloted technology demonstrator, serving as a testbed to develop the power and energy management systems to support its future nine-passenger aircraft.

“The hybrid system is a serial hybrid where both the turbogenerator and battery power the electric motors in the high-power take-off and landing phase, and the turbogenerator charges the battery during cruise — enabling the aircraft to fly farther and operate free of charging infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.

Propulsion system testing took place at Electra’s propulsion development facility in Switzerland. In parallel with these tests, Electra said it is currently building the technology demonstrator airframe and performing integration testing, and will move forward with flight testing once it has finished all safety and performance relevant integration tests. The company previously told eVTOL.com that it is on target to flight test its two-seat demonstrator later this year.

“Hybrid-electric propulsion is a technology that opens up the design space to build radically more fuel-efficient aircraft,” the spokesperson said.

Electra’s goal is to one day build a family of aircraft. However, it’s current focus remains on its nine-seat eSTOL aircraft, which it intends to have type certified with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in 2026.

The company said its eSTOL aircraft is designed to accommodate future hydrogen or advanced battery-electric propulsion systems when those technologies are commercially viable. To support its long-term goals, Electra is exploring green hydrogen with Plug Power, a new partnership that emerged from Electra’s acquisition of Airflow in June.

Electra is developing a blown lift hybrid eSTOL aircraft, which it claims will be able to take off and land on runways as short as 300 feet (91 meters). The aircraft will be designed to carry 1,800 pounds (815 kilograms) or seven to nine passengers at a range of 500 miles (800 kilometers) and cruising speed of 200 miles per hour (320 kilometers per hour).

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