Short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft secures $8 billion in pre-orders

Electra Hybrid-electric STOL
The Electra hybrid STOL, with a nine-passenger capacity, is set to commence service in 2028. Images courtesy Electra

In an era where electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are stealing headlines, the introduction of Electra’s hybrid-electric short takeoff and landing (STOL) plane presents a notable shift in the aviation industry. With a staggering $8 billion in pre-orders, this aircraft is proving that there’s a significant market interest in innovative aviation technologies that blend conventional designs with advanced capabilities.

Electra’s hybrid-electric STOL aircraft distinguishes itself with its unique design and functionality. Scheduled to hit the market soon, the aircraft is designed to carry nine passengers and a pilot, along with luggage, over distances of up to 500 miles (805 kilometers) at a cruising speed of approximately 200 mph (322 km/h).

What sets this aircraft apart is its ability to operate from exceedingly small runways – as small as 300 x 100 feet (92 x 31 meters), roughly one-tenth the size of a standard runway. This capability is attributed to its eight electric props situated along the wing’s leading edge and large flaps on the trailing edges, facilitating a “blown lift” aerodynamic effect. This allows the plane to lift off at an impressively low speed of just 35 mph (56 km/h).

This feature significantly enhances the aircraft’s flexibility, enabling it to operate from limited spaces, including potentially the tops of some buildings, as suggested in Electra’s promotional materials. While it may not offer the same level of operational versatility as eVTOLs, which are theorized to enable rooftop-to-rooftop urban travel, the Electra STOL’s ability to utilize extremely short runways is a game-changer in regional aviation.

Electra Hybrid-electric STOL Two-seat Demonstrator
A two-seater prototype took flight in November, preceding the planned 2026 test of the nine-seat version.

Another advantage of Electra’s aircraft is its relatively straightforward path to certification and commercial deployment. Functioning more like a traditional airplane, it faces fewer regulatory hurdles compared to eVTOLs, which are navigating a more complex and uncharted regulatory landscape. This aspect is likely a significant factor in attracting investors and customers.

Electra has already made substantial progress in developing this innovative aircraft. A two-seat prototype was flown in November, with a full-scale nine-seat prototype scheduled for flight in 2026. The company targets certification and entry into service by 2028.

The market’s response to this hybrid-electric STOL aircraft has been overwhelmingly positive. Electra reports over 2,000 aircraft pre-orders, totaling more than $8 billion. This figure surpasses the pre-orders for the leading eVTOL contender, Vertical Aerospace, which has secured 1,500 aircraft pre-orders worth over $5 billion. This strong market interest reflects the attractiveness of Electra’s proposition: a small-runway, half-electric aircraft capable of regional travel.

Electra Hybrid-electric STOL Regional Aviation
Electra’s STOL aircraft is set to revolutionize regional air travel with its unique ultra-short takeoff and landing capabilities.

The financial implications of these pre-orders are significant, with the $8 billion figure representing approximately eight times the annual revenue of established aviation companies like Cessna, according to data from Growjo. This remarkable market reception underscores a shifting landscape in aviation, where innovative, less disruptive technologies like Electra’s hybrid-electric STOL are gaining traction.

As the aviation industry continues to evolve, Electra’s hybrid-electric STOL aircraft represents a fascinating blend of traditional and modern aviation technologies. Its ability to operate from extremely short runways, combined with the smoother pathway to commercial deployment, makes it an attractive option in the regional aviation market. This aircraft’s success in securing pre-orders is a testament to the industry’s readiness for practical and innovative solutions in aviation technology.

Source: Electra