Bristow secures five early delivery positions for aircraft

Electra has received deposit payments for five early delivery positions for its eSTOL production aircraft from Bristow.

Bristow signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Electra in 2021 to be the launch operational customer for the eSTOL, with a pre-order of up to 50 aircraft. With the recently executed  deposit agreement the operator has now guaranteed the first five delivery slots. 

Bristow will use Electra’s aircraft to expand its portfolio of specialised passenger services to offer sustainable regional air transport on routes of 50 to 500 miles. Electra’s piloted aircraft has the capability to take off and land in locations as small as 300x100ft, making it ideal for reaching a wider range of remote and under-utilised airports as well as alternative landing areas.

Dave Stepanek Bristow’s executive VP and chief transformation officer said: “With this early delivery position, Bristow looks forward to being among the first AAM companies to add the Electra eSTOL aircraft to our fleet and offer our customers the advantages of this new class of aircraft. Bristow provides safe, efficient, sustainable, and accessible air travel solutions to our customers, and Electra’s eSTOL aircraft aligns perfectly with our vision, while enabling new markets at substantially lower operating costs.”

Electra’s proprietary blown lift technology uses eight motors to provide additional wing lift and enable ultra-short takeoffs and landings at slow speed. Its hybrid-electric power provides internal recharging capabilities for aircraft batteries which also increases range. Compared to vertical takeoff alternatives, the aircraft can deliver over twice the payload over much longer distances, said Electra. 

Developers have also designed the aircraft so that hydrogen or battery-electric propulsion systems can be used in the future if and when those technologies are commercially viable.

John Langford chair and CEO of Electra said: “We deeply value our partnership with Bristow Group and the 75+ years of experience they bring to our development program as our principal launch operational customer. This cash deposit is a real show of confidence in our eSTOL aircraft and a validation of our development roadmap. Bristow is a true AAM leader, and we look forward with anticipation to the future delivery of our aircraft to Bristow’s fleet.”

Earlier this month, Electra flew a maiden flight of its EL-2 Goldfinch eSTOL technology demonstrator. Speaking at the time, 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 now developing 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.