Unmanned Cargo Plane to Usher in New Era of Freight Transport
San Diego has one of the richest aerospace heritages of any city in America. Ryan Aeronautical Co. built Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” aircraft in the mid-1920s. During World War II, Consolidated Aircraft Corp. mass-produced planes such as the B-24 Liberator and the PBY Catalina.
In the 1950s, Convair’s Atlas Launch Vehicle helped usher in the Space Age. And, as everyone who has watched “Top Gun” knows, North Island Naval Air Station is home to some of the best combat pilots in the world.
A startup company called Natilus Inc. is planning to write the next chapter in San Diego’s illustrious aviation history. It is developing a large unmanned cargo aircraft that may someday revolutionize the air freight and logistics industry.
Natilus plans to design and manufacture a family of aircraft that feature a blended-wing body (BWB) configuration. Unlike traditional tube-and-wing airplanes, BWBs combine the wing, body and tail into a single wing that can generate a 30 percent reduction in fuel consumption.
“The blended-wing design with our patent-pending diamond cargo configuration allows for more volume, helping our customers optimize for the reality of today’s e-commerce freight,” says Aleksey Matyushev, CEO of Natilus. “For the same weight of tube-and-wing aircraft, [our plane] will transport more than twice as much revenue cargo for the same trip, lowering costs by 60 percent and reducing CO2 emissions by 50 percent.”
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