Falls Church air taxi startup gets big backer, Lockheed Martin

Falls Church, Virginia-based Electra.aero, which hopes to begin test flights of its prototype electric air taxi later this year, has the backing of aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.

Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed’s Lockheed Martin Ventures has invested in the company through a Series A round of funding, though the dollar amount of the partnership has not been disclosed.

Electra.aero’s hybrid-electric ultrashort takeoff and landing aircraft, or eSTOL, can take off and land in as little as 100 feet using a distributed electric propulsion-blown lift technology. A small turbine-powered generator recharges batteries in midflight. It has been designed to carry up to nine passengers, or 1,800 pounds of cargo up to 500 miles.

It is developing the aircraft for a variety of uses, including on-demand intracity flights for medical missions, cargo transportation and scheduled passenger service.

“Hybrid-electric aircraft have the potential to deliver operational and environment advantage over other aircraft, including increased payload and range without gambling on battery improvement. We’ve invested in Electra because of its focus on hybrid-electric technology,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manger of Lockheed Martin Ventures.

The electric air taxi that Electra.aero is developing would have a variety of uses, including on-demand intracity flights for medical missions, cargo transportation and passenger service. (Courtesy Electra.aero)

“Lockheed is a leader in aerospace and defense, and we believe this relationship is a complementary one for Electra and Lockheed Martin. Hybrid-electric propulsion will influence every aspect of aviation,” said Electra founder and CEO John Langford.

Electra unveiled its commuter aircraft concept last summer.

Langford founded another local aviation innovator, Aurora Flight Sciences, a Manassas, Virginia based manned and unmanned aircraft developer that Boeing acquired in 2017.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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