Sunday, September 19, 2021

Our mission is to turn flygskam into Flugvergnügen

Aeroplanes dominate long-distance transportation, but automobiles are used for most travel less than 500 miles.  It takes too long to get to an airport.  It takes too long to get through an airport. And now there’s the flygskam movement – flight shaming – aimed at noise and emissions.

Electra.aero (pronounced “electra dot aero”) aims to change all that.  Our team is developing a new generation of electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft that will be safe, clean, quiet, convenient, affordable, and….fun.  We aim to re-establish Flugvergnügen – the joy of flying.

Even though we are a start-up, this is not our first rodeo. Our team’s previous experience includes the Daedalus human-powered aircraft, the Perseus high altitude UAV, the Orion long-endurance UAV, the XV-24 LightningStrike UAV, the D8, the PC-12, the PC-24, the Eclipse 500, the SUGAR Volt, and many others.

We believe in the power of small, high-performance teams in highly focused pursuits.  Our team includes top talent from around the world, and we’re excited about the future of aviation.  We operate on the theory of disruptive innovation. Our centres of gravity include Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bern, Switzerland, Washington DC, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Electra eSTOL technology enables clean, quiet, sustainable air access and turns any soccer-field sized space into a runway.

In classical airplane design, bigger is better as far as engines are concerned.  Distributed electric propulsion allows the use of many small motors distributed around the aircraft, and allows designs that more fully integrate structures, aerodynamics, and propulsion.  The result is a lighter, more efficient airplane that is also more reliable.  Electric propulsion makes airplanes better neighbors, too, allowing designs that are quieter and less polluting.

High-tempo, high precision takeoffs and landings used to require the skills of a Navy carrier pilot.  Electra uses guidance and control systems developed and proven on unmanned aircraft and autonomous vehicles to provide pilot assistance systems that enable high-precision landings and make single-pilot operations safe and reliable.  Takeoffs and landings on roads, parking lots, sports fields, and even docks or barges are key to the Electra concept.

Combining aerodynamics and propulsion allows Electra to use powered lift to achieve takeoffs and landings in distances only a few times the length of the aircraft.  Previously, “short takeoff and landing” might mean runways of a few thousand feet.  For Electra, it means runways of a few hundred feet.  Such short distances open thousands of new locations to air service, even in urban areas, and cut door-to-door travel times typically in half.

The rise of digital mobile devices and networked services have allowed the rapid rise of ride-sharing services in ground transportation.  Electra’s aircraft will bring that convenience to air travel.  On-demand service lets you travel when you want, where you want.  And it allows seamless integration into ground on-demand mobility services as well, greatly reducing the “mode switching” delays that are such an important part of current travel.