Pipistrel presents new unmanned eVTOL aircraft for air cargo market

Pipistrel's Nuuva V300 and smaller V20 aircraft. Credit: Pipistrel Aircraft.An rendering of the Pipistrel Nuuva V20 aircraft being loaded up. Credit: Pipistrel Aircraft.The Pipistrel Nuuva V300 aircraft in flight. Credit: Pipistrel Aircraft.A rendering of the Pipistrel Nuuva V300 being loaded at an airport. Credit: Pipistrel Aircraft.

Pipistrel Aircraft is now accepting orders for its Nuuva series of air cargo eVTOL aircraft, which includes the flagship V300 model and smaller V20.

The Slovenian manufacturer says it aims to disrupt aerial cargo transportation by commercialising the use of eVTOL aircraft, with the Nuuva family combining ‘the best of both aeroplane and helicopter air cargo transportation principles’.

The V300 is planned to be in service for the second half of 2023, while the V20 – designed to be a lightweight cargo courier – can carry payloads of up to 20kg and is expected to be delivered to customers as early as 2021.

The V300 can be customised for a wide range of missions – so operators prioritising longer distances can trade-off aircraft’s payload capacity and anti-ice capabilities for fuel.

This will allow them to transport a 50kg payload as far as 2,500km – without compromising the ability to take-off and land vertically from altitudes as high as 8,000ft. At lower take-off altitudes and with shorter mission requirements, the Nuuva V300’s payload can be increased to up to 460kg –  beating the coveted 1,000 lb threshold.

Currently, precious cargo is delivered to locations around the world with helicopters, which are excellent for hovering but much less efficient in cruise flight, as they rely solely on their rotor(s) to provide the necessary lift.

Their complex flight mechanics also results in a high number of moving parts, requiring frequent maintenance and inspection, further increasing the costs of operation.

Ivo Boscarol, Pipistrel Aircraft’s General Manager, said: “The missing link in middle-size-and-weight cargo transportation prevents fast and efficient delivery. Often the road connections to remote locations are very poor or non-existent, so destinations such as small islands, mountainous areas, deserts, densely forested places etc. are extremely hard to reach for cargo transport.

“Imagine that you are living on one of the almost 15,000 Indonesian islands where less than 50 people are living, and you want to order a washing machine. There is no regular ferry line, no aerial connection, so you must simply take your own boat, go pick it up and bring it home, many miles across the unpredictable sea. Helicopters are simply too expensive, too noisy, too dangerous and too polluting for the atmosphere.”

The Nuuva V300 takes-off and lands using eight independent battery-powered Pipistrel E-811 electric engines, already Type Certified. The whole system is safeguarded by the integrated health self‑monitoring system that alerts of any potential malfunction even before it occurs, increasing the reliability and safety.

A dependable and proven internal combustion engine in the aft fuselage powers the aircraft in cruise flight, offering unbeatable fuel economy and low maintenance costs. A unique tandem-wing configuration with fly-by-wire control surfaces boosts the aerodynamic efficiency and reduces the landing footprint of the vehicle, while assuring a wide centre-of-gravity margin.

The large cargo compartment accepts up to 3 Euro-pallets (EPAL) that can be easily loaded with a regular forklift. The aircraft then flies a preloaded flight plan fully autonomously, controlled by a highly reliable digital flight control system. Continuous communication allows the ground operator, who manages the vehicle with simple mouse-clicks, to have ultimate control in case of changes or cancellation of the flight.

Nuuva V300’s batteries can be charged by simply plugging-in to a SkyChargeTM by Pipistrel and Green Motion charging station. The two companies announced a partnership earlier this month.

Boscarol added: “Three EURO-pallets of cargo is the size which replaces small truck or a large cargo van. This is the missing link between large cargo aircraft and the small last-mile-delivery and this is what we are offering.

“The 300km range to be reached in one hour and a half is a very big benefit also for the delivery of perishable goods such as fresh vegetables or meat products, pharmaceuticals and frozen food. In combination with the NUUVA V20, this delivery system is capable of reaching almost every parking place, football field or an ordinary grass field in any urban area in the world and land there.”

For more information about the aircraft, visit https://www.pipistrel-aircraft.com/aircraft/nuuva-v300/