Bristow signs LoI for 100 Elroy Air Chaparral VTOLs
Bristow Group has signed a letter of intent (LoI) to pre-order 100 of Elroy Air’s Chaparral hybrid-electric cargo VTOLs. The Chaparrals will be the first cargo movement-focused VTOL aircraft to be introduced into Bristow’s fleet. The firm plans to use the Chaparral to serve logistics, healthcare, and energy applications.
Bristow also points out the Chaparral reduces emissions by introducing hybrid-electric powertrain and helps offset the pilot shortage because they are autonomous aircraft.
Bristow executive vice president and chief transformation officer, Dave Stepanek said: “Leveraging our expertise as both a helicopter and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operator, we plan to use the Elroy Air Chaparral aircraft to fill an increasing demand for the movement of time-sensitive cargo for logistics, health care and energy applications.”
The first production version of the Chaparral will carry 300–500lbs (136 to 226kg) of cargo over a 300mile (482km) range with its hybrid-electric powertrain. Goods are loaded into an underslung pod that latches to the fuselage and can be picked up and dropped off autonomously within a 50ft landing square.
The VTOL features eight vertical lift rotors, four forward propellers for cruise flight, a high-wing airframe configuration, as well as automated ground autonomy and cargo-handling systems. All within an airframe made using carbon composite materials.
Although operated autonomously, the Chaparral can also be remotely piloted to adhere to various civil aviation authorities and airspace policies.
Elroy Air’s VP of business development and strategy, Kofi Asante said interest since unveiling the Chaparral a few months ago has been amazing.
“The Chaparral was built for the challenges we’re facing today. Demand for rapid logistics is outpacing today’s infrastructure. The Chaparral creates a ‘fast-lane’ for middle-mile logistics to an unprecedented range of locations that can serve remote, rural areas and can fly over rough terrain. We’re proud to work with the global leader in vertical flight solutions to create the future of express logistics,” said Asante
Elroy Air has now secured agreements to supply 900 aircraft to commercial, defence and humanitarian customers. The LoI is expected to be replaced with a separate purchase agreement.