San Francisco, CA — Elroy Air announced the successful completion of its first full-scale system flight test, the 1,215-pound, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo prototype, reaching a height of 10 feet and hovering for 64 seconds before descending and landing safely. The test was completed at 9:14AM PST on August 14th, 2019 at McMillan Airfield at Camp Roberts, CA in partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School. The aircraft was remotely piloted by the company’s lead test pilot.
“Today is an important step toward the future of logistics,” said David Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air. “Since the earliest days of powered flight people have wanted to use the skies for convenient, rapid cargo transport to anywhere. The airport-dependence of traditional manned air cargo options shows that air cargo still has great opportunity to evolve. Autonomous VTOL cargo systems will make the dream of ultra-responsive logistics possible, because they decouple air cargo from airports. These large cargo systems are about to become mainstream, and the Elroy Air team is leading the industry with our development of the Chaparral aerial cargo system.”
The Elroy Air Chaparral and Cargo Pod at McMillan Airfield, Camp Roberts, CA (Elroy Air)
Elroy Air is part of a recent surge of companies developing VTOL aerial mobility systems. Unique to the Elroy Air system is its hybrid-electric powertrain enabling long range deliveries, and its cargo-handling automation for rapid and unattended loading and unloading. Very few teams worldwide have achieved successful flight of a VTOL system of this scale.
“The development is a response to a global pilot shortage and growing demand for more flexible and rapid logistics across all traffic and terrain scenarios on the ground. Autonomous air cargo transportation has the ability to improve the quality of life globally by increasing access to time-sensitive critical supplies,“ said Kofi Asante, Head of Strategy and Business Development. “Our systems have been requested to serve e-commerce parcel, pharmaceutical, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions globally. As the growing demand for rapid logistics drives shippers to adapt, we plan to play a key part in enabling this new wave of autonomy-enabled express transportation.”
“Developing a robust VTOL system at this scale of payload is a challenging feat that requires the right team and resources,” said Clint Cope, VP of Engineering at Elroy Air. “The set of flight-critical systems that all have to be working perfectly together for robust, repeatable performance is non-trivial. The Elroy Air team is a squad of experts who know exactly what it takes in their respective domains to build a world-class aerial cargo system. This flight is a huge milestone, because it validates what our team can do. We’ll celebrate this accomplishment with our investors and customers, then continue our work toward deployed systems.”
Following the successful first fight, the team will focus on additional testing, including autonomy, transitions and forward flight.
Elroy Air Chaparral in the hangar at McMillan Airfield, Camp Roberts, CA. (Elroy Air)