Natilus grows autonomous aircraft facilities
22 / 04 / 2022
By Rebecca Jeffrey
3.8 ton payload short-haul feeder UAV. Photo: Natilus
Natilus has expanded to a new site that will host engineering and manufacturing facilities as construction begins on its first autonomous cargo aircraft.
The California-headquartered company’s new “Brown Field” facility in San Diego includes a 12,000 sq ft hangar for prototype final assembly, structural testing, systems’ integration and secondary structural bonding.
There is also a 8,000 ft runway for testing, with the ability to land large, oversized cargo aircraft.
The 1,500 sq ft of additional office space will supplement Natilus’ engineering offices in downtown San Diego.
Manufacturing of the first Natilus aircraft – the 3.8 ton payload short-haul feeder UAV – has now begun at Brown Field hangar in preparation for the first flight in 2023. Additional wind tunnel testing will take place in early May 2022.
“As the design of the prototype aircraft nears completion, we are expanding the team and facilities to move into final assembly,” stated Aleksey Matyushev, co-founder and chief executive of Natilus.
“Our tier one suppliers are excited about the new platform which will reduce carbon emissions, while increasing cargo volume. On continents, such as Africa and parts of Asia, with limited infrastructure, our new 3.8T autonomous aircraft will become an essential mode of rapid and safe transportation.”
Natilus has initial plans to design and manufacture a family of four aircraft with the growing e-commerce market in mind. The aircraft offer “60% more volume” and competitive costs.
Additionally, Natilus has designs for a 60 ton payload medium/long range UAV; 100 ton payload long-range UAV and 130 ton long-range large cargo aircraft. All aircraft use JetA or SAF fuels, plus existing ground infrastructure and standard air cargo containers, offering a turnkey solution for customers.
Last month, Natilus signed a contract with Collins Aerospace for design, development, and integration of a specialised loading system.
Earlier this year, Natilus announced purchase commitments of more than $6bn for delivery of more than 440 aircraft in pre-orders, from major airlines and integrators, including Volatus Aerospace, Astral Aviation, Aurora International, Dymond and Flexport.