A community for those looking up to the sky and into the future...
Issue #9 (202309)
The Unmanned Cargo Update blog series highlights developments related to logistics in the uncrewed middle-mile air cargo (UMMAC) sector, an industry yet to exist.
The Moya eVTOL design is unconventional, to say the least. This platform uses two sets of horizontal wing surfaces for lift in forward flight and is 100% electric-powered. It is propelled by four electric motors and sits horizontally when landing, but in flight, the aircraft travels in a vertical orientation. The total length is 16 feet, with a wing span of 24 feet. Performance they hope to achieve is a range of 68 miles and a payload capacity of 440 lbs.
It does not appear the test vehicle has achieved its first flight, but the company is heavily targeting UMMAC and interestingly the agriculture sector for spraying. With a predicted range of only 68 miles, it falls well short of most other cargo vehicles being developed in the VTOL sector. However, it is one of the few that are designed to be fully electric, so we can understand the tradeoff they accept by not choosing to incorporate a hybrid powerplant. Given the specs, we assess this platform to be ideal for ship-to-shore resupply servicing vessels fifteen to thirty miles offshore waiting to get into port.
We highlight the Moya design to show how radically different airspace around the world will look in the coming years. This approach to flight displays yet another option customers and operators could have to fulfill their needs with niche uncrewed aircraft servicing all sectors of the logistics ecosystem. This December Moya has been selected to participate in the Techstars Los Angeles Accelerator program supported by JP Morgan investment bank. As unconventional as it may look Moya has as good a chance as any other eVTOL startup out there to gain funding for its next level of test and development.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted unanimously to approve Michael Whitaker's nomination to be the next FAA administrator. Whitaker had a long career as an airline executive at TWA and United. He also served as deputy administrator at the FAA during the Obama administration, so he’s no stranger to government or industry. Whitaker's nomination has gotten wide support from the airline industry and its biggest unions, as well as his former boss at the FAA.
Whitaker's nomination to be the next FAA administrator still requires a full Senate confirmation, so it might be a while… If confirmed Whitaker stated "I would view my role as administrator, as chief recruitment officer, certainly for FAA, but also for the industry,". Whitaker’s nomination for FAA leadership comes at a time where close calls have become regular news, and air traffic controller shortages are a commonly discussed topic around holiday travel seasons.
Very interesitng to us is Whitaker’s current role as chief operating officer of Supernal, a Hyundai Motor Group company that's designing an advanced air mobility vehicle. We have featured Supernal in this blog before, and are very familiar with their business, aircraft development, and manufacturing strategies. Should Whitaker clear Senate confirmation it will be a promising development that the FAA’s top adiminstartor will understand the UTM/AAM/UAM environment and be able to make sensible decisions to move all sectors of the industry forward.
This twelve-month research project funded by the FAA seeks to analyze and enhance the security and performance monitoring of uncrewed aircraft system traffic management (UTM) ecosystems. The research will focus on quantifying the effectiveness of various failure mode detection and mitigation strategies within a complex UAS operations environment. The utilization of ResilientX’s FRAIHMWROK software in this study will shape future UTM policy, inform aircraft certification standards, and influence requirements UMMAC operators will need to adopt as best practices.
ResilientX has assembled an amazing team of industry leaders for this project and it's another example of how a collaboration of experts is necessary to progress AAM in the national air space. We took notice in August when OneSky won the Air Traffic Control Association Industry Award by providing Urban Air Traffic Management (UATM) services for the Korea UAM Grand Challenge. We also highlighted NUAIR in the Unmanned Cargo Update blog earlier this year where they discussed their test site featuring a 50-mile UAS corridor based out of Rome, New York.
We had the opportunity to meet and talk with the ResilientX founders Ryan Pleskach & Andrew Carter a couple of months ago at Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas. It was great to get their insights firsthand and appreciate the time they spent with us discussing UAM/AAM/UMMAC and the future of aviation logistics. When exchanging messages with Andrew Carter this week he told us “Going into this research project, we are very excited to do some formal V&V. This industry markets capability after capability, but there is a lack of verification that any of the capabilities work. Demos are great, but we wanted to go through an aviation grade test process with traceability to our requirements.” We would like to congratulate the ResilientX team on their contract award and wish them great fortune in executing this research project.
Another major development for Dronamics who is on track to become one of the world's first full-scale UMMAC operators. This agreement adds to their achievements earlier this year of Becoming the World's First Cargo Drone Airline with IATA and ICAO Designator Codes. As the first uncrewed cargo airline with a license to operate in Europe, they are also the first cargo drone airline to secure ITIA/ICAO codes, granting it recognition on par with other international airlines. The first flight of their flagship Black Swan occurred in late May of 2023, so it will be interesting to see how soon they actually go operational in both Europe and the Middle East.
Headquartered in Dubai, Emirates Post Group Company (EPG) is a Public Joint Stock Company under Emirates Investment Authority (EIA) operating as a commercial entity. It manages and oversees its postal operational division, Emirates Post, as well as FINTX, and Electronic Documents Centre (EDC). Having spent several years in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) we understand how perfectly middle-mile air cargo services will fit in the logistics chain, and how progressive and forward-thinking business leaders are in the country. Bordered by Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south the UAE lies on the south side of the Arabian Gulf with vast deserts and mountain ranges in between its major cities. With hostile temperatures, sandy conditions, as well as a saltwater environment the UAE will be a true proving ground for the Black Swan aircraft.
The Black Swan is a fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft designed for UMMAC transport between improved or unimproved surfaces provided at least 1,300 feet of runway is available. The published specs are to carry 770 lbs of cargo at a distance of 1,550 miles. This is not an electric or hybrid aircraft but the company does have design plans and partnerships in place to adopt fossil-free alternatives to power its engine. There is no indication of when the first production model will depart the assembly line.
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