MightyFly to begin testing autonomous cargo aircraft

MightyFly Cento VTOL aircraft. Photo: MightyFly

Autonomous cargo aircraft company MightyFly will begin last and middle mile test flights with its hybrid, electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification.

The FAA has granted the California company’s MightyFly Cento eVTOL aircraft a Special Airworthiness Certificate and a Certificate of Authorisation (COA) for long-range flights.

This means that MightyFly can start demonstrating the long-range flight capabilities of Cento.

Demonstrating autonomous eVTOL flights up to 600 miles of range with 100 pounds of cargo is unprecedented in the industry, said MightyFly.

With this COA in place, the company will be able to accelerate development of its autonomous aircraft, with a larger airspace (230 square miles) in which to test the transition from hover to forward flight at medium and high altitudes (up to 5000 ft).

The MightyFly Cento has a cargo capacity of 45 kg, a range of 600 miles and a max speed of 150 mph.

Measuring 4m by 5m, the aircraft features eight electric vertical lift fans, one forward propulsion propeller, and a high wing carbon fibre airframe. Fully loaded, the Cento weighs 161 kg, said MightyFly.

Because Cento is equipped with a hybrid powertrain, it does not require recharging between flights. An internal combustion engine recharges the aircraft’s battery while in the air, enabling it to perform multiple consecutive deliveries, with up to 600 miles range.

Cento is equipped with a 1.8m by 0.30m by 0.30m internal cargo bay able to carry 96 small USPS packages.

Cargo is loaded and unloaded by a conveyor belt that operates autonomously, so no human handling other than drop off and pick up is required at the ground stations.

“The traditional hub-and-spoke distribution model can still serve businesses that have centralized warehousing and shipping systems in place and that have experienced few logistics issues,” said Manal Habib, MightyFly chief executive and co-founder.

“But if there is one lesson we’ve learned from supply chain bottlenecks and logistics over the past few years, it’s that we need flexibility – to be able to adapt to various cargo volumes and expedited timing or urgencies.

“Medical companies, just-in-time manufacturing, and the 51% of all retailers that now provide same-day delivery need a faster and more affordable way to get their goods and perishables to the final destination.”

MightyFly is planning to develop a larger vehicle that can carry 500 pounds of cargo.

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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]