Electra.aero acquired California-based Airflow in an announcement made at the UP Summit on 2nd June, an annual gathering of leaders in transportation innovation hosted by investment firm UP Partners.
Both Electra and Airflow have been building blown-lift, ultra-short takeoff and landing aircraft that favour the flexibility of a helicopter, yet have the longer range and superior economics of a fixed-wing aircraft, in order to create a powerhouse in the emerging advanced air mobility (AAM) market.
Electra will consolidate Airflow’s eSTOL business under the Electra brand and will integrate its experienced team, backlog of letters of intent and strategic partnerships into its own activities.
Airflow co-founder and CEO Marc Ausman said: “The Airflow and Electra teams both have experience in developing and testing battery-powered aircraft, which convinced us that the physics and economics favour a solution that uses a wing throughout the full flight versus a rotor-borne vertical takeoff and transition aircraft.
“Distributed electric propulsion allows us to take off and land within two vehicle lengths to access parking-lot sized spaces, and offers not only lower costs but a much more straightforward path to certification than vertical lift variants.”
Electra’s eSTOL aircraft is currently designed to transport nine passengers and a pilot or 1800 pounds of cargo up to 500 miles in all weather conditions. The company claims its technology delivers two and a half times the payload and 10 times longer range at 70% lower operating costs than vertical takeoff alternatives.
Electra founder and CEO John Langford added: “The Airflow team is experienced and motivated, and this acquisition will allow Electra to grow and scale more quickly.”
The acquisition places Electra’s order book at almost 800 units, beyond break-even for commercial development. When used with sustainable aviation fuels, Electra’s first-generation, hybrid electric system offers a carbon-neutral aviation solution, burning a third less fuel than conventional aircraft.
In April, Electra promoted James ‘JP’ Stewart, previously Director of Programs, to Vice President and General Manager, having joined the company in the fall of 2020 shortly after its founding.
Prior to Electra, Stewart was Senior Technical Program Manager at Aurora Flight Sciences (a Boeing Company) where he led the development of an eVTOL aircraft for Porsche.
Before that in February, Electra was awarded a Phase III Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the US Air Force.
The contract, awarded through the Air Force Agility Prime programme, will help accelerate Electra’s plan to begin flight testing a full-scale hybrid eSTOL technology demonstrator aircraft later this year.