KinectAir, Electra Aero Sign MOU For Up To 31 Hybrid eSTOL Aircraft is developing a hybrid eSTOL aircraft designed to carry two pilots and nine passengers or 2,500 lb. of cargo over a distance of 400 nm at 175 kt.


Regional mobility booking platform KinectAir has announced a partnership with that could see it deploy up to 31 hybrid electric short takeoff and landing (eSTOL) aircraft across its network in the Pacific Northwest in the coming years.

Portland, Oregon-based KinectAir partners with third-party Part 135 operators that operate two Diamond DA62s and a single Pilatus PC-12 on behalf of the startup in exchange for access to its artificial intelligence (AI)-driven booking platform, distribution system, marketing and brand. The company, which also has its own Part 135 application pending with the FAA, has global ambitions and aspires to be “as ubiquitous as AirBNB or HotelTonight, but with much better control of the quality of our product,” KinectAir CEO Jonathan Evans says. 

“We broker all their flights. Basically, we’re the point of sale,” Evans says of KinectAir’s partner carriers. “Fundamentally, we’re providing something to this very fragmented market of smaller Part 135 operations on the right aircraft, in the right regions, for us to start networking them onto a common platform. They benefit from economic cooperation, like filling each other’s empty legs, so there’s a real network effect at play too.”

Based in Manassas, Virginia, is developing a hybrid eSTOL aircraft designed to carry two pilots and nine passengers, or 2,500 lb. of cargo, over a distance of 400 nm at 175 kt. from a 300-ft. runway. Because of the aircraft’s solid range and capacity–as well as its ability to utilize small and rural airport runways–KinectAir believes it could easily be integrated into its fleet and network, while unlocking new regional route pairs that were not previously viable with conventionally powered aircraft. 

He adds that focusing on eSTOL and regional air mobility—rather than eVTOL and urban air mobility (UAM)—provides an easier path to adoption while fitting into the growing regional mobility paradigm that promises to unleash new connectivity options. 

“With eVTOL, there’s always community issues, there’s noise, and there’s a steep hill to climb to be able to operate above our major cities,” Evans explains. “With eSTOL, we can connect these underutilized local airfields that do not need new construction, or to go through permitting or deal with noise complaints. I’m not saying eVTOL won’t happen, but we’re looking for an aircraft that can operate today from the same airfields that we’re currently using–and that’s only possible when you’re flying eSTOL.”

Through the integration of eSTOL aircraft–in combination with its AI-driven trip optimization software–Evans says that KinectAir can help “shift the paradigm” of regional air mobility by creating new point-to-point efficiencies and reducing passenger seat mile costs. This would help democratize on-demand aviation for people who previously were priced out of the market.

“There is this whole regional air mobility model where 70% of people fly under 1,000 miles on the current jet hub and spoke system, but they’re mostly all concentrated at the same few dozen airports while thousands of others go unused,” Evans says. “If we can optimize and unlock that capacity through more efficient point-to-point flying, we could see enormous amounts of efficiency in the aviation footprint itself.”

Ben Goldstein

Based in Washington, Ben covers Congress, regulatory agencies, the Departments of Justice and Transportation and lobby groups.