elroy air’s eVTOL facilitates express shipping around the world


elroy air, a startup with that develops autonomous cargo aircraft systems to massively expand the reach of express shipping, has recently revealed its pre-production aircraft dubbed ‘chaparral’. this first-of-its-kind, autonomous, hybrid-electric VTOL can pick up 300-500 lbs of cargo and deliver it by air up to 300 miles. this capability pushes beyond the limited payload capabilities of delivery drones and the airport infrastructure required of piloted air cargo options available today.

autonomous 'chaparral' eVTOL cargo aircraft to enable same-day shipping across the globe

all images courtesy of elroy air



fast, safe, and autonomous 


the chaparral by elroy air (find more here) will carry 300–500lbs of cargo over a 300-mile range thanks to its hybrid-electric powertrain and simple, redundant lift and forward-flight motors. the vehicle is able to land, deposit cargo, pick up another load, and then take-off again, all in just a few minutes and without operator interaction. it is designed to transport goods in lightweight, aerodynamic pods which are pre-loaded by ground personnel, and picked up autonomously by the aircraft before takeoff.


‘ [the chaparral] it is built for full end-to-end automation, and it will safely and efficiently make express shipping possible in thousands of new places. it’s a delivery drone that’s faster than ground transport and lower cost than today’s traditional aircraft.’ says elroy air co-founder and CEO david merrill.

autonomous 'chaparral' eVTOL cargo aircraft to enable same-day shipping across the globe



reaching rural communities, despite pilot shortages


elroy air has secured agreements to supply 500 aircraft with multiple commercial, defense, and humanitarian customers. among them, mesa airlines, an american regional airline operating large fleets on behalf of partners including american airlines, united airlines, and DHL, intends to order 150 vehicles to serve the express parcel and healthcare sectors.


‘we are increasingly seeing the demand for same and next-day delivery, but so many rural communities have been cut off from the national transportation system. pilot shortages and environmental regulations make this even more challenging. with the chaparral, we’re excited to be able to provide autonomous cargo delivery to help reconnect those communities.’ mentions jonathan ornstein, chairman and chief executive officer of mesa airlines.


‘we have designed an aircraft that behaves like a hybrid between a rough-and-ready helicopter and a battle-hardened bush plane, that can pick up cargo anywhere within a 50 sqft landing area.’ explains clint cope, co-founder and president of elroy air. ‘the chaparral will be a vital logistics link for people around the world with unreliable roadways and in remote and rural areas that take longer to reach today.’

autonomous 'chaparral' eVTOL cargo aircraft to enable same-day shipping across the globe



delivering emergency supplies for humanitarian relief


since chaparral ensures fast delivery even on the roughest terrains, both military and humanitarian customers have shown interest in acquiring the vehicle. in fact, elroy air has received funding from the US air force and an order for 100 new craft from AYR logistics, a company that works with aid groups like the united nations and world food programme (WFP).


‘moving to unmanned, aerial cargo vehicles will make a huge difference to our cost structure and the risk profile of our operations. we fly in difficult terrain and difficult conditions. we don’t always have the luxury of a runway or even personnel at some locations.’ says stephen lyons, chief development officer of AYR logistics. ‘there simply hasn’t been a UAV with the type of capabilities that the chaparral has in the commercial markets.’


the chaparral system incorporates eight vertical lift fans, four distributed electric propulsors for forward flight, a high-wing airframe configuration, as well as improved ground autonomy and cargo-handling systems. the vehicle is essentially a transitioning ‘lift + cruise’ VTOL with a full carbon composite airframe, and a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range mission capabilities. it is also designed to fit in a 40’ shipping container or C-130 cargo aircraft, enabling it to be quickly shipped and deployed anywhere in the world.





project info: 


name: chaparral
company: elroy air