Hybrid ‘eSTOL’ Demonstrator Flies


A Virginia company may have created a new category for the burgeoning advanced air mobility sector when it flew its eSTOL hybrid electric Goldfinch on Nov. 19. The aircraft is powered by a “turbogenerator” that charges batteries to supply electricity to eight motors on the high wing. The motors provide blown lift over the wings, giving the aircraft its STOL performance. The two-place technology demonstrator flew for 23 minutes and got to 3,200 feet after taking off in Manassas.

In the works is a nine-passenger model the company says will land and take off in 150 feet and cruise at 200 MPH for 500 miles. The company claims pre-orders for 1,700 aircraft worth $6 billion. It’s also got up to $85 million in funding from the Air Force to develop the production prototype. “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,” said Electra CEO John Langford. 

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. The revolution isn’t in the initial source of energy- charged batteries vs. petroleum- but the switch from bulky, heavy ICEs and turbines to light electric motors that allow creative airframes.

  2. Couldn’t help but think “This would be a perfect place for a Paul Bertorelli Op-Ed piece in his “New Retirement.” Paul can always be counted on for a “warts and all” opinion–unafraid to explain the positives and negatives of a proposed system.

    We miss your candid comments, Paul!

  3. These planes would have great applications for urban mobility using existing GA airports had we not torn them up.


  4. A Caravan can travel 1070 nm with IFR reserves. It can cruise at 186 knots. It can carry up tp 14 passengers plus flight crew. It has a useful load of 3305 pounds. It can take off in 1160 feet at gross weight.

        • From the article:

          “In the works is a nine-passenger model the company says will land and take off in 150 feet…”

          I added a 50′ buffer.

          And the Caravan, at 186kts, is almost 200kts.

          In other words, the STOL will be able fly missions that the Caravan can’t.

          • It won’t.

            If it ever exists it will use airports. GA airports at the smallest. Probably 3,000′ minimum runways.

            Also I suspect the numbers they provide are unverified. For a plane that has been flown all of 23 minutes the speed and passenger carrying and endurance claims seem haughty.

            The Caravan exists. It works. Any of us would feel safe in one being correctly operated.

  5. Note that this aircraft has a gas turbine driving a generator, which runs the motors and can also recharge the batteries.
    How can this be even equal to the efficiency of a single turbo-prop like the Cessna 208 mentioned ?
    Being a stol aircraft is nice, but most GA airports have runways of 2,000 ft to 6,000 ft.!

    Also this aircraft will have to take off from an airport, maybe a small GA airport, and then land where ?….at a large class C airport, or another GA non-towered airport.

    Other than maybe a shorter drive to a nearby airport, what advantage do this provide.?

  6. I believe the highlight of this aircraft press release is the “turbogenerator”. This aircraft is going to use a SAFRAN turbine for power. There’s other STOL aircraft on the way that are also using turbogenerators. The Turbine Engine Industry is the big elephant in the room when it comes to the future of air travel. As the airframes come and go the Turbine will just keep improving.

    Just keep in mind that Helicopters are here now and will be for many years to come. 🚁🚁🚁

    • Agree.

      The turbine/generator is a better power source than batteries but other than that there is no advantage over the Caravan or a helicopter as discussed.

  7. E-STOL makes more sense to me than E-VTOL. It needs a little more space, but a VTOL-port is going to need more space than just a pad in general anyway.

  8. Taking off in 150 ft is feasible. Landing in 150 ft, I’m skeptical. With 9 passengers, crew and baggage, GW will probably be in the range of 4,400 lbs. Even with “blown lift” and at the claimed 35 kts takeoff and landing speed, that is a lot of mass to decelerate in 150 ft.