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Hybrid-Electric Chaparral VTOL Can Carry 500 Lb for 300 Miles in Its Boat-Like Cargo Pod

Able to carry up to 500 lb (226 kg) over a distance of up to 300 miles (482 km), the Chaparral C1 sounds like a promising autonomous VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aerial cargo platform. It was developed by California-based company Elroy Air, which has recently unveiled the pre-production version of it.
Elroy Air Chaparral C1 cargo VTOL aircraft 7 photos
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While the Chaparral is at its core just another delivery drone, what makes it more special than its competitors is its generous payload, its longer range, and the fact that it carries the cargo in a lightweight, aerodynamic, modular pod that looks like a small boat.

The pod is loaded by ground personnel but then the aircraft comes and picks it up autonomously before it takes off. Landing, picking up the load, and taking off is a process that only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require any interaction with a ground operator. In fact, Elroy Air boasts of the aircraft being able to deliver directly to loading docks five times faster than trucks can.

The Chaparral has a full carbon composite airframe and comes with a turbine-based, hybrid-electric powertrain, which, of course, means that this flying machine is not completely emission-free. But that was a compromise Elroy Air was willing to make, to increase the range of the aircraft. The Chaparral can fit in a C-130 cargo aircraft.

Elroy Air describes the Chaparral as a delivery drone that’s faster than ground transport and lower in cost than today’s traditional aircraft. And the future looks promising for the company, which stated that it has secured agreements for over 500 aircraft from commercial, defense, and humanitarian customers, amounting to more than $1 billion in demand. There are a lot of potential applications for the Chaparral, which can also serve as a cargo aircraft for disaster relief, firefighting, armed services, and more, without relying on airport infrastructure.

Elroy Air is yet to mention when its hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft might enter operation. You can find more about the Chaparral and the company behind it, in the video below.



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