Electra Aero completes maiden flight with Goldfinch demonstrator


Electra Aero has successfully flown its EL-2 Goldfinch in a world first for hybrid ultra-short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft.

The two-seat Goldfinch STOL demonstrator is the world’s first blown lift aircraft using distributed electric propulsion and a hybrid-electric propulsion system. The aircraft makes use of eight electric motors to increase wing lift and enable ultra-short takeoffs and landings while reducing noise and emissions below those of conventional aircraft. Also, hybrid-electric power provides long ranges without the need for ground-based charging stations.

Electra’s vice president and general manager JP Stewart said: “The Goldfinch completed an all-electric test flight on November 11 and a hybrid-electric flight on November 19, both piloted by Cody Allee, from the Manassas Regional Airport in Virginia. The first hybrid flight lasted 23 minutes, reached an altitude of 3,200 feet, and covered a distance of approximately 30 miles. We’re looking forward to further expanding the envelope of this aircraft and demonstrating the full capability of Electra’s technology.”

Electra is developing a nine-passenger version that can take off and land with ground rolls as short as 150ft and fly at speeds of 200mph for distances of 500 miles. The firm holds pre-orders from more than 30 customers for over 1,700 aircraft, totalling more than $6bn in backlog. 

The OEM will develop a prototype of a full-scale pre-production aircraft under a previously announced strategic funding partnership valued up to $85m with the US Air Force AFWERX Agility Prime Program. Certification and entry into commercial service under FAA Part 23 regulations is targeted for 2028.  

Electra founder and CEO John Langford added: “The aim of Electra is to fill a gap in air travel between 50 and 500 miles, where most trips today are made by automobile. The key to saving time is to operate close in, which means getting in and out of small spaces quietly and safely, while still being fast enough to cover long distances. 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.”

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