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Video shows new hybrid aircraft complete mind-blowing test flight with 'almost no runway': 'An incredible achievement'

"We've proven that our eSTOL aircraft has the capability to do what we said it could do."

"We've proven that our eSTOL aircraft has the capability to do what we said it could do."

Photo Credit: Electra.Aero

The next-gen aerospace company Electra has achieved a remarkable milestone with its hybrid-electric test aircraft, which took off in under 170 feet on its first test flight — around 10% of the typical length of conventional airplane runways. 

In a company news release, Electra said that test flights of its hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft, the EL-2 Goldfinch, took place earlier this year at several Virginia airports. Although the vehicle is designed to take off and land on airstrips about the size of a soccer field (300 feet by 100 feet), as New Atlas described, it needed "almost no runway" to take flight. 

During the two-month testing period, the Goldfinch consistently took to the skies in just over half the maximum space needed, reaching an altitude of 6,500 feet before landing in under a 114-foot stopping distance. 

According to the news release, it flew at about 28 miles to 29 miles per hour on takeoff and landing, but thanks to its patented "blown-lift design" using eight small electric-powered propellers, it doesn't need much speed to get off the ground. 

And because it runs partially on clean electric energy, the Goldfinch is much quieter than traditional airplanes, producing a noise level of just 75 decibels at around 300 feet, per New Atlas

In addition to being less of a disturbance for communities, the hybrid aircraft also reduces pollution, burning 40% less fuel on a standard 100-mile route compared to similar aircraft, per Electra. This makes the air healthier to breathe while also curbing the planet-overheating gases that are driving more extreme weather

With a range of 500 miles plus a 45-minute reserve, the eSTOL doesn't need ground-based charging infrastructure, allowing for longer flights without interruptions. Electra aims to have a nine-passenger commercial eSTOL aircraft in service by 2028.

As aircraft manufacturers worldwide continue to make breakthroughs in aerospace technology, flights powered by clean energy may become a reality sooner than we think, ushering in a new era of pollution-free travel that's better for us and the planet. 

"Today's milestone is an incredible achievement as we've proven that our eSTOL aircraft has the capability to do what we said it could do — operate from spaces shorter than 300 feet," said Electra vice president and general manager JP Stewart in the release. 

"We'll continue to develop our technologies … and further improve the STOL takeoff and landing performance in the ongoing test campaign."

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