A new air freighter design could carry 60% more cargo. Half price ?
Californian startup Natilus has unveiled a new unmanned aircraft it claims will make air cargo more sustainable and profitable, a report of NewAtlas reveals.
The company designed a mixed-wing aircraft, similar to NASA’s X-48 “green airliner” concept, what he says allows him to offer “cargo volume estimated to be 60% greater than traditional aircraft of the same weight while reducing costs and carbon dioxide per pound by 50%.”
Natilus’ first model, the N3.8T, will have a maximum takeoff weight of 8,618 kg (19,000 lb) and a range of 1,667 km (1,035 miles), with a capacity to carry loads of up to 3,855 kg (8,500 lb) . The company recently completed a second wind tunnel test (shown in the video below) of its twin-engine turboprop design and says it aims to make first deliveries of the unmanned aircraft around 2025.
Cut air freight costs in half
Similar to NASA with its X-48 concept, Natilus used a mixed wing airframe to provide better fuel efficiency, reducing the environmental impact of the N3.8T. The body also allows for more cargo space, which means lower operating costs. “Reducing the cost of air freight by up to 50% will bring fresher products to our stores, allow cross-border e-commerce to thrive and allow regions with poor infrastructure to develop,” said Aleksey Matyushev, CEO of Natilus, in a statement.
The goal is for Natilus’ cargo drones to start delivering small packages before larger models are developed with larger payload capacities and ranges of up to 8,220 km (5,112 miles). Natilus has just announced an agreement with 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 as well as record e-commerce demand. Boeing, for example, has just announced that it is developing its new 777-8 Freighter, which will have a 25% improvement in fuel efficiency. Another California-based company called H2 Clipper is seeking funding to help it develop a zero-emissions airship concept that could operate at a quarter of the price of traditional air cargo. As the aviation industry aims to reduce its impact on the environment, air cargo could be turned upside down.