Airflow launched to develop first eSTOL aircraft for ‘middle-mile aerial logistics’

From L-R: Peter Kalogiannis, Geoff DuBridge, Don Fung and Marc Ausman. Credit: Airflow.A concept of an Airflow eSTOL aircraft. Credit: Airflow.

Five mem­bers from the for­mer Air­bus Vahana team have launched a new com­pa­ny called Air­flow, to devel­op the first eSTOL air­craft designed for mid­dle-mile aer­i­al logis­tics.

They are CEO Marc Aus­man, who was the chief strate­gist on the Vahana pro­gramme, and Peter Kalo­gian­nis, Vahana’s air­craft inte­gra­tion and test lead. Com­plet­ing the line-up is flight soft­ware engi­neer Don Fung, senior sub-scale vehi­cle engi­neer Geof­frey DuBridge and flight con­trols con­sul­tant Rob­bie Bunge.

With more than 60 years of com­bined aero­space indus­try expe­ri­ence at com­pa­nies includ­ing Air­ware, Eclipse Avi­a­tion, Northrop
Grum­man, Scaled Com­pos­ites and Uber Ele­vate, they expect its air­craft to go into pro­duc­tion in 2025.

In a blog post about the com­pa­ny’s launch, Aus­man said: “We were keen­ly aware of the chal­lenges and com­pro­mis­es inher­ent in cur­rent eVTOL designs and asked our­selves if there were alter­nate ways to address the urban air mobil­i­ty mar­ket.

“It turns out there is an alter­na­tive that is sim­pler, with low­er devel­op­ment cost and risk and is less than half the oper­at­ing cost of an eVTOL. We pro­pose that elec­tric Short Take­off and Land­ing (eSTOL) air­craft are also suit­able for urban air mobil­i­ty mis­sions.

“We start­ed to devel­op and com­mer­cialise eSTOL tech­nol­o­gy and offer trans­porta­tion ser­vices that sim­ply don’t exist with today’s com­mer­cial air­craft.”

In a press release announc­ing the launch, Air­flow says the need for rapid mid­dle-mile logis­tics capa­bil­i­ties between 50 — 200 miles is grow­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly due to e‑commerce growth.

To address that need, the com­pa­ny has said its aer­i­al logis­tics ser­vice can move car­go and time-sen­si­tive med­ical sup­plies direct­ly between ware­hous­es with­out using tra­di­tion­al air­ports.

Airflow’s eSTOL air­craft will require less than 150 feet to take off and land using a 300-foot run­way, about the length of three heli­pads next to each oth­er. It will also include an elec­tric propul­sion sys­tem, sin­gle-pilot oper­a­tions, and the abil­i­ty to car­ry 500lbs of car­go.

The design is rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple fixed-wing air­craft, which dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduces devel­op­ment and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion risk when com­pared with more com­plex ones.

From a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion stand­point, eSTOL air­craft are con­ven­tion­al air­craft with new tech­nol­o­gy that is focused on enabling short-field capa­bil­i­ties, and can be cer­ti­fied under stan­dard Part 23 reg­u­la­tions.

Aus­man added: “The demand for same-day e‑commerce con­tin­ues to rise, and we’re build­ing a new low-cost aer­i­al capa­bil­i­ty to enable that growth. Our approach from the begin­ning is to focus on a sim­ple air­craft design with well-defined new tech­nol­o­gy.

“In doing so, the team believes devel­op­ment and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion costs will be approx­i­mate­ly $200 mil­lion ver­sus more than $700 mil­lion for an eVTOL air­craft, mak­ing for more effi­cient use of cap­i­tal.”

To learn more about Air­flow and their planned eSTOL-enabled logis­tics net­work, vis­it