Inspenet, December 28, 2023.
Cargo drone startup Elroy Air has achieved a significant milestone with the successful flight test of its Chaparral C1 , an autonomous vertical take-off and landing aircraft with hybrid electric turbocharger (hVTOL) propulsion. This historic flight took place last November at the company’s flight test facility in Byron, California.
Elroy Air’s Chaparral C1 goes beyond just being a conventional cargo drone; represents a fundamental advance in the aviation industry by combining distributed electric propulsion (DEP) with a turbogenerator-battery architecture. This innovative methodology allows the aircraft to perform vertical takeoffs, autonomous flights and safe landings , marking a crucial milestone in the development of hybrid-electric aircraft.
Dave Merrill, co-founder and CEO of Elroy Air, expressed the importance of this achievement: “This is an exciting day for our team and the industry as a whole. Our Chaparral C1 became the first hybrid electric turbogenerator hVTOL aircraft to take flight. This marks an important moment for the industry as hybrid-electric aircraft enable the dual benefits of safe, runway-independent redundant propulsion and long-range flight that far exceeds battery power.“.
Chaparral C1: a game-changing hVTOL
Elroy Air’s Chaparral C1 addresses the restrictions associated with all-electric systems by combining a gas turbine-driven generator along with batteries. Thanks to this hybrid turbogenerator architecture, long-range missions are possible without depending on charging infrastructure, making it a particularly suitable solution for logistics applications, humanitarian aid shipments and military resupply.
The Chaparral C1 has generated notable interest in the commercial logistics, humanitarian aid and defense sectors. Elroy Air’s vehicle portfolio, supported by letters of intent (LOI) and memoranda of understanding (MOU) with deposit-backed agreements, currently projects future revenues exceeding $3 billion .
Under this context, Dr. Mark Esper, 27th US Secretary of Defense. and member of the Elroy Air Board, highlighted the strategic importance of Chaparral in military applications: “Their work to enable autonomous delivery of cargo for troop resupply in the field will create a revolutionary capability to support and sustain US military and allied forces in future campaigns.“.
Elroy Air’s outstanding flight test achievement lays the foundation for additional expansion and closer collaboration with the United States Air Force. The company has active contracts covering programs such as SBIR Phase II, SBIR Phase III and TACFI (Transformable Vertical Flight Capability).
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