Californian startup Natilus has unveiled a new unmanned aircraft that it [believes] will make air travel more sustainable & affordable, a report from NewAtlas reveals.
The company designed an aircraft with a blended-wing body, similar to the concept of NASA’s X-48 “Green Airliner”, which it says allows it to offer “an estimated 60 percent more cargo volume than traditional aircraft of same weight while reducing costs & CO2 per pound by 50%.”
The first model of Natilus, the N3.8T, will have a maximum take-off weight of 8618 kg and a range of 1,667 km, with a loading capacity of up-to3855 kg.
The company recently completed a 2nd wind tunnel test (shown in the video below) of its twin-engine turboprop design and says it is aiming to make first deliveries of un-manned aircraft sometime around 2025.
Cut air travel costs in half
Similar to NASA with its X48 concept, Natilus used a blended-wing airframe to provide better fuel efficiency while reducing the environmental impact of the N3.8T. The body also allows for more cargo space, which means lower operations costs. “Reducing air freight costs by up to 50% brings fresher produce to our stores, enable cross-border e-commerce to flourish & enable the development of low-infrastructure regions,” Natilus CEO Aleksey Matyushev said in a statement.
The goal is for Natilus’ cargo drones to start delivering small packages before larger models with greater payload capacities & ranges of up to 8,220 km (5,112 miles) are developed. Natilus has just announced an agreement with the drone network operator Volatus Aerospace to receive the first production N3.8T.
Several companies are aiming to improve air cargo efficiency amid supply chain challenges caused by the pandemic & record e-commerce demand. Boeing, for Ex, has just announced that it is developing its new 777-8 Freighter, which will have a 25% improvement in fuel-efficiency.
Another California company called H2 Clipper is seeking funding to help it develop a zero-emissions airship concept that could operate at one quarter of the price of traditional air freight. As the airline industry strives to curb its impact on the environment, air cargo could be in for big-shake-up.