22-Feb-2023 Source: Ameriflight
Ameriflight, the nation’s largest Part 135 Cargo airline, announces signed letter of intent to purchase 35 VTOL air cargo drones from Sabrewing Aircraft Company, Inc., a U.S. corporation designing and producing a new generation of regional cargo UAV that offers high-efficiency, all-weather operation with vertical landing and takeoff (VTOL) capabilities. The agreement is for the Rhaegal-A aircraft, also known as “Alpha”, the world’s best-in-class, highest fuel and maintenance efficiency cargo UAV on the market. Ameriflight expects to take delivery following type certification of the aircraft.
The Sabrewing partnership and Rhaegal-A purchase will enable Ameriflight to enter into new business opportunities in distribution center logistics. Using the VTOL capabilities to carry over a ton of cargo to off-airport alternative landing zones, the new cargo aircraft will allow Ameriflight to aid customers in developing a faster and more efficient warehouse distribution network. For Ameriflight, this will be a complementary service, not replacing their current flying operation, aircraft, or pilots. The company’s goal is to build diversified aviation services, and this fits well with that vision.
“In looking to the future, adding this advanced aircraft to our portfolio will complement our fleet and increase our assortment of assets, allowing us to expand our service areas through the development of warehouse distribution operations,” said Ameriflight President and COO Alan Rusinowitz. “With a payload capability of 2,000+ pounds, the Rhaegal-A is perfectly suited for the medium lift category operation. Sabrewing’s record-setting technology guiding Rhaegal-A as the world’s first autonomous cargo aircraft capable of both vertical and conventional take-off is an incredible milestone, and we are excited to partner with them on this new fleet.”
“We’re committed to developing advanced, versatile, and efficient air cargo solutions with our best-in-class Rhaegal aircraft that maximize on long range, payload capacity, and sustainable fuel efficiency to successfully deliver on a range of cargo missions,” explained Ed De Reyes, CEO of Sabrewing. “We’re excited to be at the forefront of autonomous innovation and to have Ameriflight at our side, with this new agreement marking the Alpha’s first American launch customer.”
Sabrewing’s Rhaegal-A aircraft achieved its first hover flight in September 2022 while lifting a record-setting payload of 829 pounds. The company is in the process of initiating the aircraft’s production line, with first deliveries expected to take place in the first quarter of 2024. Innovation in design allows the Rhaegal-A aircraft the ability to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) reducing carbon emissions by up to 80%, while maintaining the efficiency to fly cargo between facilities four times faster than can be driven and land in locations other aircraft cannot, eliminating the added cost of airport transfer of cargo. The new fleet will be used to support Ameriflight’s new business opportunities, primarily for its expedited supply chain services.
This marks Ameriflight’s second agreement to purchase autonomous aircraft after having signed with Natilus just last month on the purchase of its Kona aircraft, a 3.8-ton payload, short-haul feeder uncrewed aerial vehicle. Ameriflight intends to use both fleet types in tandem with their current operation.