Electra has been selected by the US Air Force AFWERX innovation arm for a Strategic Funding Increase (STRATFI) up to $85 million between private investments, government funding, and matching Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding to develop a full-scale prototype electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft.
Designed for operations from soccer field-sized spaces, Electra’s eSTOL represents a new class of aircraft, characterised by helicopter-like operational flexibility with performance and operating costs better than comparable fixed-wing aircraft.
It can operate in environments ranging from busy urban areas to remote landing strips, and fly missions including on-demand urban and regional air mobility, cargo logistics, executive transport, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Electra has received over 1,000 eSTOL aircraft orders from commercial customers around the globe. This STRATFI award funds rapid development, test and evaluation of a full-scale pre-production prototype eSTOL aircraft.
It will leverage Electra’s upcoming test of a two-seat piloted eSTOL demonstrator and accelerates the transition to Electra’s commercial nine-passenger eSTOL product aircraft to support Air Force missions of interest.
This effort builds directly from Electra’s six active USAF SBIR and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase II and Phase III contracts which have matured each core aspects of distributed electric propulsion, blown lift aerodynamics and acoustics, precision flight controls and hybrid-electric powertrains.
Under the STRATFI contract, Electra will further strengthen its partnership with the AFWERX Agility Prime program, chartered with expanding technology transition paths to accelerate emerging dual-use markets by leveraging government resources for rapid and affordable fielding, while bolstering U.S. tech advantage.
“This STRATFI award reinforces the Air Force’s commitment to dual-use eSTOL technology as a solution for national security and other government missions, and validates Electra’s aircraft design and engineering work to date,” said Electra founder and CEO John Langford.
Electra director of technology Ben Marchionna added: “Electra’s eSTOL is ideally suited to serve as a small highly fuel-efficient airlifter that helps the Air Force execute agile combat and meet operational energy goals to reduce aviation carbon emissions.”
Air Force Agility Prime Lead Lieutenant Colonel John Tekell continued: “It’s vital that we ensure new advanced air mobility technologies with dual-use applications are developed and manufactured in the US.
Electra’s eSTOL technology has the potential to deliver valuable logistics and mobility capabilities to the Air Force. We value our partnership with Electra and look forward to supporting their continued development and future transition.”