The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

FutureFlight Weekly News Roundup

Bristow Secures First Deliveries of Elroy Air's Chaparral Aircraft

Helicopter operator Bristow, which recently preordered 100 Chaparral hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft from Elroy Air, has placed a deposit to secure the first deliveries. According to Bristow, it will receive the first five commercially certified Elroy Air Chaparral vehicles to come off the production line. Elroy Air intends to certify the aircraft in 2023. 

The Chaparral is designed to carry up to 500 pounds (226 kilograms) of freight, contained in modular cargo pods, up to 300 miles (482 kilometers). Elroy Air intends to make the aircraft fully autonomous for pilotless operations, but it can also be remotely piloted by ground controllers. 

Air Nostrum Orders Another 10 Hybrid-electric Airships

Just over a year after Air Nostrum Group announced its plans to acquire 10 hybrid-electric airships from Hybrid Air Vehicles, the airline group has doubled down on its commitment with an order for an additional 10 aircraft. Air Nostrum Group, which operates one of Europe’s largest regional airlines, intends to begin flying the 100-passenger Airlander 10 airships in Spain as early as 2026. 

According to Hybrid Air Vehicles, which is building the airships in northern England, Air Nostrum has also joined a development partnership program for the larger Airlander 50 model, which the company is developing for heavy-lift freight transport. 

Digital rendering of an Airlander 10 airship in flight
Air Nostrum has doubled down on its order of Hybrid Air Vehicles' Airlander 10 hybrid-electric airships, bringing the total order up to 20 units. (Image: Hybrid Air Vehicles)

Chinese Officials Prepare for EHang eVTOL Certification

Last week, EHang reported that it is on the verge of having its EH216-S autonomous eVTOL aircraft certified and ready to enter commercial service, having completed all the type certification testing with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). 

Now the CAAC’s Central South Regional Administration has begun working with the agency’s Department of Flight Standards “to ensure the EH216-S can be put into operation promptly after obtaining the airworthiness certificate,” a company spokesperson told AIN. “They are jointly developing operational standards and requirements to facilitate the seamless transition between airworthiness certification and operational deployment of this unmanned aerial vehicle system.”

ParaZero Introduces AI-based Safety System for Drones, Air Taxis

ParaZero Technologies, a company that makes parachute systems for drones, has developed an avionics system for drones and other eVTOL aircraft that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make autonomous flight operations safer. 

Called SmartAir Trinity, the safety system uses a combination of cameras and sensors with AI and machine-learning algorithms to provide complete situational awareness and detect malfunctions in real time. It also features a new and improved parachute deployment system that automatically detects and identifies safe landing zones and delivery sites. 

Anra MMX
Anra's Mission Manager X provides fleet management and air traffic management software and services for UAS operators. (Image: Anra Technologies)

‘Mission Manager X’ Streamlines UAS Fleet and Traffic Management 

Anra Technologies, a Virginia-based company that offers software solutions for drone operators and airspace managers, has launched a new fleet operations and management platform for uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS). 

The platform, called Mission Manager X (MMX), integrates Anra’s various mission, fleet, and air traffic management services and technologies into a single solution that the company says ensures “safe and compliant drone operations, covering everything from preflight planning to post-flight analytics.”