Elroy Air, a company that specializes in developing innovative end-to-end autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo systems, has recently signed an agreement with LCI, a leading aviation company and a subsidiary of the Libra Group. The agreement includes commitments to purchase up to 40 of Elroy Air’s Chaparral VTOL aircraft, with deposits already paid for the first 20 vehicles. This deal brings Elroy Air’s total aircraft demand to more than $2 billion, with commitments for 900 Chaparral systems across multiple sectors including commercial, defense, and humanitarian.
The Chaparral is the first of its kind, a fully autonomous VTOL cargo delivery system. It is designed to transport up to 500 lbs (225 kgs) of goods over a range of 300 nautical miles. The aircraft is enabled by a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain with distributed electric propulsion, and specially designed aerodynamic modular cargo pods. The Chaparral’s capabilities are well suited for emergency situations, such as disaster relief, firefighting and humanitarian operations, as well as for logistics, without the need for pilots or airport infrastructure.
David Merrill, CEO and Co-Founder of Elroy Air, said, “We’re experiencing an enthusiastic response to the Chaparral and its capabilities to serve as a key part of a safe, efficient, and capable fleet of aircraft to respond in emergency situations, keep pilots out of harm’s way, and enable rapid logistics in a new and sustainable way.” He added that “through our agreement with LCI, the Chaparral will be available for financing, enabling much broader access to the aircraft. We are proud that the Chaparral will now be part of LCI’s aviation fleet and look forward to providing aerial cargo transport globally.”
Jaspal Jandu, CEO of LCI, commented, “This commitment for the pioneering Chaparral system will enable us to efficiently support mission-critical, remote logistical work and socially responsible humanitarian work around the world. It will do so in complement with the wide-ranging capabilities of our existing aviation fleet.” He continued “We have been impressed with Elroy Air’s vision and approach and look forward to working closely with the team on a wide range of market opportunities. This forms part of our wider advanced air mobility strategy and will strengthen LCI’s position as a leading provider of leasing, financing and investing solutions for this new and exciting market.”
In addition to this new agreement, Elroy Air has also recently moved its flight testing facility to Byron Airport in Byron, California. The company is using the new facility to support full-scale ground and flight testing of the Chaparral. The company will initially be conducting tie-down testing to validate the software and hardware of its Chaparral C1 vehicles to validate safety of flight through a series of ground tests. Elroy Air has moved their Ground Control Station (GCS) to the airport, a custom-built mobile enclosure with engineering stations, weather monitoring, viewport windows, a dedicated network infrastructure, a datalink control and monitoring radio system and a rooftop observation deck. The GCS contains its own uninterruptible power supply (UPS), aircraft monitoring computers, and a climate control system. The GCS will be used to support both ground and flight tests. Elroy Air is working in partnership with Urban Air Mobility, a joint-venture between MS Commercial, Inc. and Nearon Enterprises, to lease and prepare a new 7,000 square foot hangar at Byron airport for its ground and flight test campaigns. This new facility will ensure smooth and efficient progress into the next flight test campaign and beyond.