November 17, 2023
The world’s first turbogenerator-hybrid electric vertical take-off and landing (hVTOL) aircraft flew for the first time this week at a test facility in Byron, California.
The Elroy Air Chaparral CI aircraft uses a turbogenerator system and high-power batteries to fly.
Chaparral C1 aircraft took off vertically from Byron Airport and flew for 57 seconds before landing. The Elroy air team runs test flight operations at Byron.
The autonomous hVTOL aircraft has a distributed electric propulsion system and a turbogenerator-battery architecture. Elroy said the flight marks a significant milestone for the company, whose mission is to enable same-day shipping and agile, low-risk resupply for the military.
Elroy Air co-founder and CEO Dave Merrill said it was an “exhilarating day for our team and the industry as a whole.”
“In 2017 we had an unconventional idea to develop an autonomous long-range VTOL aircraft that would fill a major capability gap for middle-mile express shipping, humanitarian logistics and military resupply,” Merrill said. “On Sunday, our Chaparral C1 became the first turbogenerator-hybrid electric hVTOL aircraft to take flight.
“This marks a major moment for the industry as hybrid-electric aircraft enable the dual benefits of runway-independent safe redundant propulsion and long-range flight well in excess of battery power alone.
“Our accomplishment puts Elroy Air one step closer to delivering a transformative logistics capability to our customers and partners.”
Last month Elroy Air announced commercial demand for its eVTOL Chaparral cargo drone aircraft exceeded 1,000 vehicles, with the company already receiving commitments from Mesa Airlines, Bristow and FedEx.
Elroy also has an agreement with Bristow for five Elroy Air Chaparral eVTOL cargo drones, an expansion of a previous preorder of 100 systems in July of 2022.
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