Cargo airline Ameriflight to buy 35 VTOL air cargo drones

Sabrewing Rhaegal-A UAV. Photo: Ameriflight

US Part 135 cargo airline Ameriflight has signed a letter of intent to purchase 35 vertical landing and takeoff (VTOL) air cargo drones from Sabrewing Aircraft Company.

The agreement is for the Rhaegal-A regional cargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also known as ‘Alpha’. The UAV has a payload capability of 2,000+ pounds.

Ameriflight said the Sabrewing partnership and Rhaegal-A purchase will enable Ameriflight to enter into new business opportunities in distribution centre logistics.

Using the VTOL capabilities to carry over a ton of cargo to off-airport alternative landing zones, the new cargo aircraft is expected to enable the airline to aid customers in developing a faster and more efficient warehouse distribution network.

For Ameriflight, this will be a complementary service, not replacing their current flying operation, aircraft, or pilots.

Sabrewing’s Rhaegal-A aircraft achieved its first hover flight in September 2022 while lifting a payload of 829 pounds.

The company is in the process of initiating the aircraft’s production line, with first deliveries expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024.

Rhaegal-A has the ability to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) reducing carbon emissions by up to 80%, while maintaining the efficiency to fly cargo between facilities four times faster than can be driven and land in locations other aircraft cannot, eliminating the added cost of airport transfer of cargo.

“In looking to the future, adding this advanced aircraft to our portfolio will complement our fleet and increase our assortment of assets, allowing us to expand our service areas through the development of warehouse distribution operations,” said Ameriflight president and chief operating officer Alan Rusinowitz. “With a payload capability of 2,000+ pounds, the Rhaegal-A is perfectly suited for the medium lift category operation.”

“We’re committed to developing advanced, versatile, and efficient air cargo solutions with our best-in-class Rhaegal aircraft that maximize on long range, payload capacity, and sustainable fuel efficiency to successfully deliver on a range of cargo missions,” explained Ed De Reyes, chief executive of Sabrewing. 

This marks Ameriflight’s second agreement to purchase autonomous aircraft after having signed up for 20 Natilus Kona autonomous feeder cargo aircraft in January.

Ameriflight intends to use both fleet types in tandem with its current operation.

Ameriflight to buy 20 Natilus cargo aircraft

Ameriflight leases 15 Saab freighters from Jetstream

Ameriflight invests in automation

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]