Moya Aero: $2m Finep funding is ‘further validation’ of startup’s vision


Moya Aero’s vision for drone operations in Latin America has received further validation in the form of $2m funding from Brazil’s Funding Authority for Studies and Projects (Finep), according to COO, Renata Marins Paolillo.

Finep, an agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI), made the selection following calls in Brazil for subsidy to demonstrated platforms of new aeronautical technologies. Moya received funding in the category “Aircraft demonstrating remotely piloted technologies and with a maximum takeoff weight greater than 150 kg”, alongside Albatross Indústria Aeronáutica, Helisul Drones and Certifica Drone.

Founded in 2020 Moya is a spin-off of ACS Aviation, one of Brazil’s leading aeronautical engineering, research and aircraft development firms based in Latin America’s industrial corridor, São José dos Campos. The startup intends to start flying later this year with an almost full-scale prototype. This smaller proof-of-concept vehicle could also be brought to market for some missions.

“We created Moya because we saw a gap in the market for high capacity cargo drones specifically for cargo and agricultural applications,” Paolillo tells Revolution.Aero. “We noticed there was a lot of movement around products involving passenger transport and smaller drones. But, especially in agriculture, we saw a gap to improve efficiency and increase productivity.”

Moya had already raised an investment from the Venture Capital fund Seed4Science, from Fundep Participações (Fundepar). With this additional funding Finep, the company will be able to further develop its fully-electric aircraft that will have a load capacity of up to 200kg, a range of 110km and a 7m wingspan.

Paolillo explains: “This Finep funding is an endorsement that we are on the right track. It is not about the money, it is a validation from the market. And we are just getting started.”

Moya’s team has now completed preliminary and critical design reviews for the aircraft. In terms of use cases, Alexandre Zaramela, CEO, Moya Aero, says: “First off, we think autonomous drones will operate in less inhabited areas. So we think there is a huge gap in the agricultural industry and also for cargo and transportation in the farms. Offshore operations and also, especially in Brazil, mining applications. Using autonomous aircraft where previously helicopters were operated will assist in saving lives.”

A digital rendering of Moya Aero’s autonomous eVTOL. (Credit: Moya Aero)

The firm is developing and building two separate aircraft. Although both designs are largely similar, one is specific to use in agriculture and the other for cargo. Paolillo said Moya’s eVTOL will offer up to a 50% reduction in operating costs compared with current equipment. Also, with 10 times the freight payload, it will be as much as six times more productive in crop-spraying exercises than small drones available today.

Zaramela explains: “The main characteristic of the aircraft is that we can operate in almost any area. From an agro perspective, we can operate on the edge of rivers or in close proximity to houses.”

A broad set of applications means a varied selection of buyers and operators for the aircraft — from mining multinationals, cargo operators, and oil firms to small-to-medium sized farms. Moya is happy to sell to anyone with a valid use case, Paolillo confirms. “We can sell to private buyers or we can operate the aircraft ourselves,” she says.

Moya is currently developing an autonomous flight control system in partnership with a number of Spanish and Brazilian partners. However, initial operations will have some human involvement in supervising flights from ground control centres.

Moya Aero will be exhibiting at the DroneShow, MundoGEO Connect and SpaceBR Show 2023, which will take place between May 9th and 11th at the Frei Caneca Convention Center, in São Paulo.