At the UP.Summit, Elroy Air, the company developing an end-to-end autonomous hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) cargo system, announced the demand backlog for its Chaparral aircraft exceeded 1,000 vehicles in 2023.
“Elroy Air has previously secured commitments from partners in the commercial, defence and humanitarian markets including Mesa Airlines, Bristow and FedEx” according to the press release. “In September, it announced a deposit-backed agreement with Bristow for five of Elroy Air Chaparral VTOL cargo drones, an expansion to Bristow’s letter of intent to preorder 100 Chaparral systems in July 2022. The demand backlog for Elroy Air’s Chaparral systems now represents multiple years of scaled production, and early deployments are expected to prioritise defence and operations outside the United States.
“The Chaparral is a “lift plus cruise” hybrid-electric eVTOL cargo aircraft that leverages the benefits of electric propulsion and turbo-generation, for efficient autonomous operations and longer range missions. Designed with an advanced carbon composite airframe, Chaparral can be configured to ship inside a standard 40-foot container or cargo aircraft such as a C-130 for rapid global deployment.
“Elroy Air has introduced advanced modular cargo pods that complement the Chaparral’s capabilities. The pods are pre-loaded by ground personnel and autonomously retrieved by the Chaparral aircraft before takeoff. Upon arrival at the delivery location, the aircraft autonomously lowers the pod to the ground. The Chaparral aircraft then retrieves the next pod, creating a seamless bi-directional conveyor belt through the sky.”
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(Image: Elroy Air