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Electric CTOL/STOL News, Mar/Apr 2024
  • 11 Mar 2024 05:10 PM
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Electric CTOL/STOL News, Mar/Apr 2024

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.

JSX Plans Nationwide Network

JSX, a Dallas-based charter service and regional air carrier, announced on Dec. 19 that it had signed letters of intent with three companies for up to 330 electric passenger airplanes and announced plans to establish a network of routes across the US. From the Toulouse, France-based Aura Aero, JSX intends to purchase 50 19-passenger regional ERA hybrid eCTOL aircraft with an option for an additional 100 airplanes. JSX intends to purchase 50 30-seat ES-30s from Sweden’s Heart Aerospace, with an option for 50 additional aircraft. JSX is also planning to acquire 32 nine-seat aircraft from America’s Electra.aero, with an option for an additional 50 aircraft. JSX, which currently operates a fleet of 47 Embraer ERJs, intends to offer an extensive network of point-to-point flights (shown) using aircraft from ERA, Heart Aerospace and Electra, the first deliveries of which are expected in 2028.

Elysian Unveils E9X Concept

In mid-January, Elysian unveiled the E9X, a conceptual battery-powered 90-seat aircraft with a potential range of up to 500 miles (800 km). The E9X concept features a 360 Wh/kg battery pack, a 137-ft (42-m) wingspan and eight 1.5-MW motors. The Delft, Netherlands-based company envisions that by adopting an aircraft design that features a low-wing configuration, folding wingtips, and distributed batteries that are integrated into the wings, the E9X could transport passengers over long distances using existing battery technology. Elysian claims that in doing so, its battery-powered eCTOL could achieve five times the efficiency of aircraft powered by hydrogen or biofuels, conclusions it says are supported by studies by Delft University of Technology, one of Elysian’s partners on the project. The company hopes to launch the aircraft for commercial services in 2033.

Airbus ZEROe Engine Powers On

Airbus announced on Jan. 16 that it conducted a test of one of its ZEROe engines, which are expected to one day power Airbus’ hydrogen-propulsion aircraft. The test occurred at the end of 2023 and involved powering on the electric motors of the engine’s iron pod using hydrogen fuel cells. “The complete power channel was run at 1.2 megawatts, the power we aim to test on our A380 demonstrator,” said Mathias Andriamisaina, Head of Testing and Demonstration on the ZEROe project. Testing of the engine is expected to continue throughout 2024, before Airbus will install the fuel cell propulsion system on the ZEROe multimodal flight test platform — an Airbus A380. Flight testing is scheduled to begin in 2026.

P&WC Develops Bidirectional Charger

On Jan. 22, Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC), an RTX company, announced the development of an advanced mobile charging unit (MCU) for electric aircraft. The unit is capable of charging batteries at up to 1,500 volts and of bidirectional charging, allowing it to both charge and discharge batteries and potentially send unused energy back into the electric grid. P&WC developed it in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Québec-based Innovative Vehicle Institute. Work on the charging unit occurred as part of the hybrid-electric propulsion demonstrator project, a joint initiative with fellow RTX subsidiary Collins Aerospace to develop the RTX hybrid-electric demonstrator aircraft (see “Electric CTOL/STOL News,” Vertiflite, Nov/Dec 2023).

Electra Surpasses 2,000 Orders

Electra announced on Jan. 23 that it had surpassed 2,000 preorder sales of its eSTOL aircraft. The accumulated orders equate to a market value of greater than $8B, the Manassas, Virginia-based company said. The company attributed the recent growth to three preorders it signed with India’s JetSetGo Aviation, Finland’s LYGG and the New York City-based Charm Aviation. All three potential customers are seeking to introduce Electra’s eSTOL aircraft into their respective markets. Electra’s hybrid eSTOL aircraft, which remains under development, could accommodate up to nine passengers or 2,500 lb (1,134 kg) of cargo. Electra completed the first battery-electric and first hybrid-electric test flights of its EL-2 Goldfinch technology demonstrator in November.

Heart Aerospace Raises $107M in Series B

Heart Aerospace announced on Feb. 1 that it had raised $107M in its Series B funding round, in which it added Denmark’s Sagitta Ventures to its list of investors. Additionally, EQT Ventures’ Ted Persson will join Heart’s Board of Directors. The funds will aid the Swedish company’s efforts to make progress towards certifying its 30-seat ES-30 hybrid-electric regional airplane. As of early February, the company had 250 orders for the ES-30 with options for an additional 120 airplanes and letters of intent for 191 aircraft. The news brings the total financing raised by the Swedish company to $145M; Heart completed a $35M Series A round in July 2021.

ZeroAvia to Study Refueling Connection

In January, ZeroAvia announced a series of collaborations aimed at developing the land-based infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered aviation. On Jan. 10, ZeroAvia and ScottishPower partnered to study various ways of supplying airports with hydrogen, including exploring hydrogen production infrastructure. Then, on Jan. 16, ZeroAvia and Verne, a California-based hydrogen storage and refueling technology startup, partnered to evaluate using cryo-compressed hydrogen (CcH2) on-board aircraft and to study ways of refueling CCcH2 from gaseous and liquid hydrogen sources. Meanwhile, the California Energy Commission (CEC) awarded ZeroAvia a $3.25M grant to develop a liquid hydrogen refueling truck for heavy duty applications, including aviation and maritime. The funding comes from the CEC-administered Gas R&D Program, an initiative authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Electric Aircraft Symposium

Want to learn more about eVTOL, eSTOL and eCTOL? Interested in attending EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin? Don’t miss the 18th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS), July 20–21, 2024, featuring two days of discussions with leaders in electric aviation, the weekend before the largest aviation event in the world!



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