Lockheed Martin Ventures (LMV) has made an undisclosed investment in eSTOL aircraft developer Electra through a Series A funding round. The capital contributed by the venture capital arm of the U.S. defense and aerospace giant will support the Virginia-based start-up’s plans to begin flight testing a technology demonstrator this year.
Using blown-lift technology, the hybrid-electric, fixed-wing design features eight sets of propellers and is expected to be able to operate from surfaces that are no more than 300 feet long and 100 feet wide. In addition to its patent-pending distributed electrical propulsion system, the aircraft will have a small turbine-powered generator to recharge batteries during flights to give the flexibility of being able to operate into sites where recharging infrastructure is not available. The as-yet-unnamed model will carry seven to nine passengers or up to 1,800 pounds of cargo on sectors of up to 500 miles.
“Electra’s technical approach to sustainable aviation is differentiated, and we are excited to see this concept mature,” said LMV vice president and general manager Chris Moran. “We invested in Electra because of its focus on hybrid-electric technology. Hybrid-electric aircraft have the potential to deliver operational and environmental advantages over other aircraft, including increased payload and range without gambling on battery improvements.”
Last year, Electra signed provisional sales agreements with prospective operators Flapper and Flyv. It reported that work has begun with the FAA to certify the aircraft under existing Part 23 rules, and the company has received support from NASA and the U.S. Air Force.