An aviation startup is developing an electric plane that uses a novel take-off and landing system to save energy and allow for longer flights
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Spotted: As electric aviation takes off, one of its main draws is its usefulness for short hops. Electric aviation companies have proposed placing airports on the top of buildings, allowing people to use the planes for commuting. To make this feasible, most electric plane designs make use of vertical take-off and landing features. However, this uses a lot of energy and so limits the range of the plane. Now, a Northern California-based aviation startup, Metro Hop, thinks they have found a solution, with their short take-off and landing (STOL) craft.
Metro Hop’s plane is developed around a unique landing gear system, which aids in accelerating the plane to flight speed on take-off, and decelerating the plane during landing. The landing gear also does away with the need for ground acceleration, allowing the plane to take off on a 25-metre rubber roll-out airstrip.
The landing gear is equipped with an electric motor, attached to the wheels, that accelerates the plane to take-off speed without drawing power from the main engines. The landing gear also contains levers that can raise, lower or tilt the body of the plane to provide maximum lift on take-off and drag on landing. As with other landing gear, the Metro Hop gear folds out of the way when airborne.
Metro Hop is initially targeting the cargo market, and argues that its STOL design will allow the planes to be used at fulfilment centres and in metropolitan areas. The company says that, “By using all-electric, short take-off and landing cargo planes, [we] see a future where mid-mile logistics isn’t restricted to drive times or traffic congestion. Instead, using its fleer of all-electric cargo planes, Metro Hop makes a world where delivery time and distance are measured as the crow flies, direct from distribution warehouses to last-mile delivery vans.”
Metro Hop’s take-off solution is unique, but there are a number of companies vying to make electric aircraft use in cities a reality. Springwise has highlighted a number of these innovative firms, including a company developing turnkey mini-airports and a solar-powered aircraft.
Written By: Lisa Magloff