ABOVE: ERA – the Electric Regional Aircraft – hopes to make its first flight in 2026
In the second of two initiatives unveiled this week, French manufacturer Aura Aero has unveiled ambitious plans for a proposed all-electric 19-seat ERA (Electric Regional Aircraft), building upon experience gleaned from the development of its Integral family of two-seat aerobatic trainers.
Unveiled this week at the Paris 2023 Airshow, the eight-engine, eight-propellor regional airline will be fully electric, utilizing the same battery supplier as the Integral E trainer variant. Cockpit avionics come courtesy of Thales and the fly-by-wire system is being developed in-house. The aircraft, initially twin-crewed, is also intended to operate as a single-pilot operation subject to regulatory permissions. The first prototype is projected to make its first flight in 2026 with concurrent EASA and FAA certification expected by 2030.
Innovation evident not just in the propulsion technology continues into the full-size cabin mockup on display, with further efforts to “level up new tech to reduce the C02 footprint” apparent in the choice of materials. Inside the spacious 1.85m high fuselage, the overhead segment of the cabin has been left intentionally ‘bare’ to visually demonstrate the integration of a new bio-material: fabricated from resin and natural fiber. The intention is to certify this new material prior to the type’s entry into service, and although it’s admittedly slightly heavier than traditional carbon fire, Aura Aero is “highly confident” it will pass fire certification without an issue.
Despite having been founded as recently as 2018, could the simultaneous development of a regional airliner (alongside the company’s training platforms) be seen as overly ambitious? According to Antoine Blin, Chief of Staff at Aura Aero, the concurrent innovation driving both projects is an obvious option to pursue. “We’re already flying electric this year – it’s a balance in discovering the technology step by step,” he elaborates.
Alongside the ‘standard’ 19-seat model, the aircraft will also be available in an eight-seat executive version, and a cargo variant with a payload of approximately two tonnes. An existing customer (cited as a “specialist in business flight”) has already expressed keen interest in more than 330 aircraft.
IMAGES: CHARLOTTE BAILEY