Aviation company LCI has signed an agreement with Elroy Air, a developer of advanced autonomous cargo aircraft systems, to acquire up to 40 of the company’s Chaparral vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
Under the terms of the deposit-backed agreement, LCI will initially acquire 20 aircraft with an option for a total of up to 40 units. The VTOL aircraft are currently under development at Elroy Air’s facility in south San Francisco, California.
The Chaparral is the first end-to-end autonomous VTOL cargo delivery system. It is designed for aerial transport of up to 500lbs (225kgs) of goods over a 300 nautical mile range. This is enabled initially by a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain with distributed electrical propulsion, and specially designed aerodynamic modular cargo pods.
The aircraft can be used as a safe, efficient and cost-effective aerial cargo transport for commercial logistics, disaster relief, firefighting and humanitarian operations without risk to pilots or the need for airport infrastructure.
Jaspal Jandu, CEO of LCI, said: “This commitment for the pioneering Chaparral system will enable us to efficiently support mission critical, remote logistical work and socially responsible humanitarian efforts around the world. It will do so in complement with the wide-ranging capabilities of our existing aviation fleet.”
David Merrill, CEO and Co-Founder of Elroy Air, added: “We’re experiencing an enthusiastic response to the Chaparral and its capabilities to serve as a key part of a safe, efficient, and capable fleet of aircraft to respond in emergency situations, protect pilots, and enable rapid logistics in a new and sustainable way.”