Natilus, a developer of autonomous blended-wing body (BWB) cargo aircraft, and ZeroAvia, a zero-emission commercial aviation technology specialist, have announced a strategic partnership to jointly develop hydrogen-electric engines for the Natilus Kona cargo aircraft. ZeroAvia’s ZA600 will be the sole hydrogen-electric propulsion source offered for the Kona short-haul feeder UAV, with the partnership focused on delivering zero-emission and lower cost operations.
The Natilus Kona, with its BWB design, offers increased volume for hydrogen storage, potentially transforming the air cargo delivery industry to one with low-cost, low carbon emissions, while also extending flight range, say the companies. The partnership with ZeroAvia will leverage their expertise in hydrogen-electric powertrain technology with Natilus’ unique design to create a scalable, long-range, and zero-emission air cargo delivery solution for the entire industry.
Natilus recently validated the performance of the BWB design with flight testing of a quarter-scale Kona prototype aircraft, following three years of extensive wind-tunnel testing, while ZeroAvia has now conducted eight test flights of its prototype ZA600, 600kW engine in a 19-seat testbed aircraft.
Natilus reports it currently has more than USD6.8 billion in order commitments, and 460+ aircraft in pre-orders, from companies including major airlines and integrators: Ameriflight, Volatus Aerospace, Flexport, Astral, Aurora International, and Dymond. The company is now working on construction of a full-scale Kona technology demonstrator, which will have a wingspan of 85 feet (26 meters).
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