In April, the Natilus team stood in the California desert and watched their Kona sub-scale prototype take flight.
“Emotions ran wild, from anticipation to pride, to joy and then exhilaration upon seeing the first successful flight that would validate the performance of our blended wing body design – unique to the Natilus fleet and key to our ability to offer cost-effective and efficient air cargo vehicles to our customers,” Nautilus CEO and Co-Founder Aleksey Matyushev said.
Kona was up first and performed beautifully, paving the way for completion of the full-scale autonomous cargo vehicle. The flight test marked a significant milestone for Natilus and for the autonomous cargo aircraft industry in general by testing the aerodynamic performance of the Natilus unique Blended Wing Body (BWB) aircraft design and validating their wind tunnel tests conducted during the last three years, validating that the Natilus configuration can fly without the aid of a complex autopilot system.
Upon completion, the Kona remotely piloted aircraft will be capable of carrying over 9,000 pounds (4.3 metric tonness) of freight and increased fuel capacity opening new markets worldwide. “This is a game-changer in the logistics industry,” Matyushev added.
“We also announced this Spring, signed purchase commitments for the delivery of more than 460 Natilus aircraft, amounting to $6.8 billion in contracts to date. Supplier partnerships include agreements with Janicki for composite designs; Pratt & Whitney Canada for engines; Collins Aerospace for specialized loading systems; Siemens’ NX™ software for computer-aided design. As well as purchase agreements from customers such as Ameriflight, Astral Aviation, Aurora, Dymond, Volatus Aviation, Flexport, and others,” Matyushev continued.
On the environmental front, Natilus has a long-term commitment to being a responsible steward of the environment through continual improvements to save fuel and water, reduce waste, air emissions, noise, and material consumption.
To help fulfill this commitment, Natilus has partnered with ZeroAvia to develop a Hydrogen-Electric Powertrain technology application into the Kona aircraft. This Innovative hydrogen-electric solution would bring zero CO2 emissions to their customers.