Pipistrel taking orders for eVTOL cargo aircraft
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Slovenian manufacturer Pipistrel, which received in June the first certification ever for an all electric aircraft, is now taking orders for yet another visionary project, a hybrid power plant, unmanned eVTOL cargo aircraft
Powered by an internal combustion engine (in a pusher configuration) for horizontal thrust and four independent vertical-thrust electric motors on twin booms, the Nuuva V300 is intended to deliver a payload of 50kg more than 1,500 miles away, or up to 460kg over a shorter range.
A smaller variant, the V20 (designed to carry payloads up to 20kg over shorter distances) is also under development.
The V300’s planform comprises tandem high-aspect-ratio wings, a low-mounted one set forward and a high-mounted wing to the rear.
Relatively small vertical surfaces tie the rear wing to the booms. The cargo hold, is accessed via the hinged nose. It can accommodate three standard EPAL pallets (1.2 by 0.8m), which would be loaded onto the V300 with a forklift.
A typical mission would consist of a vertical takeoff, transition to level flight (relying on the wings for lift) followed by a vertical landing. It is flown autonomously via an on-board redundant flight control system that can be continuously monitored by a ground operator.
Pipistrel’s management has been bullish on using autonomous eVTOL aircraft for cargo delivery for some time, and the V300 is almost certainly descended from the 801 eVTOL urban mobility aircraft Pipistrel unveiled at the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, DC, last year.
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The V300’s electric motors are Pipistrel’s own E-811 models, but the company has not revealed which internal combustion engine will be used. Pipistrel has typically used Rotax engines in both its production aircraft and hybrid-electric prototypes in the past.
The E-811 engines are liquid-cooled, as is the planned battery system in the V300.
From an operational and commercial standpoint, the V300 combines the strengths of aeroplanes and helicopters, and Pipistrel claims it will have a fraction of the operating costs of rotary-wing aircraft.
No prices have been announced yet, and the company is aiming for it to enter service during the second half of 2023.