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Electric CTOL/STOL News
  • 21 Dec 2023 01:19 AM
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Electric CTOL/STOL News

Here’s our roundup of recent news on battery-electric, hybrid-electric and hydrogen-electric conventional takeoff and landing (eCTOL) and electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM) applications.

Regent Lands Marine Corps Support

On Oct. 18, Regent signed an agreement with the US Marine Corps Warfighting Lab (MCWL) that funds plans to demonstrate its all-electric Viceroy seaglider technology for defense logistics operations. Under the $4.75M-agreement, the Rhode Island-based company will aim to “validate the seaglider’s ability to operate each of its hull, foil and wingborne modes of operation,” as well as understand the potential of the aircraft to support maneuver and transport operations. The Regent Viceroy seaglider is expected to be able to carry 12 passengers and travel up to 180 miles (290 km) on a single charge. The announcement comes months after Lockheed Martin revealed an investment in the company (see “Electric CTOL/STOL News,” Vertiflite, May/June 2023).

Wright, Axter Complete Inaugural Flight

Wright Electric and Axter Aerospace announced on Nov. 15 the completion of the maiden flight of a hybrid-electric Thrush agricultural aircraft, previously powered by a P&WC PT6A turboprop. The jointly developed aircraft features an electric propulsion unit developed by New York-based Wright Electric that achieved 1.2 MW of peak shaft horsepower and 1.1 MW continuous power output. Between the turbine engine and electric motor, the entire propulsion shift is capable of 800 kW combined shaft horsepower. The Spain-based Axter Aerospace specializes in power electronics and batteries for the defense and aerospace markets.

Electra Completes First eSTOL Flight

On Nov. 20, Electra announced that it had completed the first flight of its EL-2 Goldfinch, a hybrid-electric ultra-short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) technology demonstrator. The two-seat Goldfinch completed its first all-electric test flight on Nov. 11, during which it flew for 23 minutes and reached an altitude of 3,200 ft (975 m) and a 30-mile (48-km) distance. On Nov. 19, it made its inaugural hybrid-electric flight. Both flights were completed at Manassas Regional Airport, Virginia, and piloted by Cody Allee. Electra unveiled the Goldfinch, which employs eight electric motors, in a June 12 ceremony in Manassas (see “Electric CTOL/STOL News,” Vertiflite, July/Aug 2023). The Goldfinch will inform the development of a nine-passenger version of the aircraft will be designed to fly up to 500 miles (804 km). On Nov. 29, Electra announced that Bristow Group Inc. had placed a deposit for five of Electra’s hybrid-electric eSTOL aircraft. Bristow pledged in 2021 to be the principal launch customer of the aircraft, placing a pre-order for up to 50 aircraft.

EcoPulse Makes Hybrid-Electric Flight

On Nov. 29, the EcoPulse completed its inaugural test flight. A hybrid-electric demonstrator jointly developed by Daher, Safran and Airbus, the EcoPulse took off from France’s Tarbes Airport and flew for roughly 100 minutes. The aircraft is based on Daher’s TBM 900 turboprop light aircraft and features six Safran-supplied ePropellers, each of which is comprised of three-bladed propellers from DUC Propellers and the Safran ENGINeUS engine. Airbus, meanwhile, contributed an 800-V DC battery and a flight control computer system that connects the electrical engines with the flight control systems. Work on the EcoPulse program began in 2019 and additional flight testing is planned through mid-2024. The results from the program are expected to inform the development of other battery- and hybrid-electric aircraft, such as the CityAirbus NextGen eVTOL aircraft.

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