A New Class of Freight Aircraft
From Da Vinci’s first flying machine drawings in the 1480s, Nicolas Woyevodsky’s initial blended wing endeavors in the 1920s, to the rapid developments in drone and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles today, the desire to fly has always been strong, yet for the past three-quarters of a century, the way we do it commercially has pretty much remained the same. Until now? “Natilus is reinventing the 75-year-old status quo of freight transportation through innovation and advanced technologies, to make air freight costs competitive to cargo shipping and dramatically improve delivery times,” the company proclaims as its vision.
Natilus is an aircraft company with a difference, and that difference was recently rewarded with advance purchase commitments of more than USD 6 billion for the delivery of 440+ aircraft in pre-orders. Yet, who or what is Natilus exactly?
Raise the volume, drop the costs
Co-founded in 2016 by Aleksey Matyushev and Anatoly Star, two San Francisco Bay Area-based aircraft design engineers who previously worked at Piper Aircraft together, Natilus’ mission is to disrupt and innovate “the design of freight transport aircraft to increase cargo volume by 60%, while cutting costs by 60%, and lowering carbon emissions by half.” Talk is of a family of large, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), completely different in aerodynamic design to what is on the freighter market today, that will “make air freight costs competitive to cargo shipping and dramatically improve delivery times.” And the planes, themselves, will also cost just a fraction of what similar conventional aircraft cost. CEO, Aleksey Matyushev quotes USD 7 million per smallest aircraft in the family, compared to USD 26 million for similar-sized, established planes.