Natilus, an innovative company producing a fleet of highly cost-efficient autonomous cargo aircraft, has successfully completed multiple flights of the subscale prototype of its Kona aircraft.
The flight tests mark a significant milestone for Natilus and the autonomous cargo aircraft industry by validating wind tunnel tests conducted over three years, testing the aerodynamic performance of the Natilus unique blended-wing-body (BWB) aircraft design.
The subscale prototype of the Kona aircraft took off from a private runway in Southern California and reached speeds of 70 mph.
One of the key challenges with the BWB design has been stability – and the test flights validated that the Natilus configuration can fly without the help of a complex autopilot system.
“We are fully focused on completing the full-scale Kona prototype,” stated Aleksey Matyushev, Natilus Co-Founder and CEO.
“Our Kona remotely piloted aircraft will be capable of carrying over 9,000 pounds (4.3 metric tons) of freight and will open new markets worldwide.
“The progress of Natilus developing autonomous cargo aircraft is a game-changer in the logistics industry, providing an efficient and cost-effective solution for shipping goods across oceans.”
Natilus has also recently completed the full-scale prototypes of both vertical tails, validating the aggressive timetables to 1st flight.
The company will receive Hartzell propellers in May, gearing up for the manufacture of the engine test stand.
Natilus is spearheading the air freight industry’s efforts to overcome the challenges brought about by the current shortage of pilots and has prioritized the development of innovative remote piloting technology, with the Kona prototype serving as a key component in correlating their own autopilot code for the full-scale demonstrator.
This innovative approach will allow air freight operators to scale their operations without compromising safety or efficiency.