Airflow, an aerial logistics company building next-generation aircraft and services, is developing the first electric Short-Take-Off and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft designed for middle-mile logistics. Airflow’s aerial logistics network can move short-haul cargo quickly and cost-effectively over road traffic by utilizing the unused airspace around cities.
Five former Airbus Vahana team members, who have over 60 years of combined aerospace experience, started Airflow when they determined eSTOL aircraft could address the Urban Air Mobility (UAM) market for one-third the operating cost of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. UAM is a transportation system using next-generation aircraft to move cargo and people in and out of urban areas by air.
The need for rapid middle-mile logistics capabilities (between 50 – 200 miles) is growing significantly due to e-commerce growth. To address that need, Airflow’s aerial logistics service can move cargo and time-sensitive medical supplies directly between warehouses without using traditional airports. Airflow’s eSTOL aircraft requires less than 150 feet to take off and land using a 300-foot runway, about the length of three helipads next to each other.
Airflow’s first eSTOL aircraft includes an electric propulsion system, single-pilot operations, and the ability to carry 500 lbs of cargo. This aircraft is a relatively simple fixed-wing aircraft, which dramatically reduces development and certification risk when compared with more complex aircraft. From a certification standpoint, eSTOL aircraft are conventional aircraft with new technology that is focused on enabling short-field capabilities. eSTOL aircraft can be certified under standard Part 23 regulations, whereas eVTOL aircraft must be certified using a more complicated and expensive process due to their more complex systems and potential failure modes.