In a significant development for the air cargo delivery industry, Natilus, a leading innovator in autonomous blended-wing body (BWB) cargo aircraft, and ZeroAvia, a pioneer in zero-emission commercial aviation, have announced a strategic partnership.
The collaboration aims to jointly develop hydrogen-electric engines for the Natilus Kona cargo aircraft, with the goal of achieving zero-emission and lower-cost operations.
The Natilus Kona, distinguished by its revolutionary BWB design, offers increased volume for hydrogen storage, which has the potential to transform the air cargo delivery industry by providing low-cost, low carbon emissions, and extended flight range capabilities. By leveraging ZeroAvia’s expertise in hydrogen-electric powertrain technology and combining it with Natilus’ unique design, the partnership aims to create a scalable, long-range, and zero-emission air cargo delivery solution that can benefit the entire industry.
Natilus has recently conducted successful flight testing of a quarter-scale Kona prototype aircraft, validating the performance of the BWB design following extensive wind-tunnel testing over three years. ZeroAvia, on the other hand, has completed eight test flights of its prototype ZA600, a 600kW engine installed in a 19-seat testbed aircraft.
Aleksey Matyushev, Co-founder and CEO of Natilus, emphasizes the company’s commitment to environmental responsibility and the continuous improvement of fuel and water efficiency, waste reduction, emissions control, noise reduction, and material consumption. The Natilus-ZeroAvia partnership aims to bring together the innovative capabilities of both companies to drive much-needed innovation in the air cargo delivery industry and provide multiple solutions for their customers.
Val Miftakhov, Founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, highlights the importance of air cargo operators and their impact on various communities. The integration of ZA600 as a line-fit engine for the Kona cargo aircraft can significantly enhance the economic and environmental benefits already offered to cargo operators. Improving the economics and environmental impacts while increasing service levels presents a massive opportunity for the industry.
ZeroAvia has already conducted world-first flight testing of a retrofitted 19-seat aircraft powered by the ZA600 prototype. The company has previously set records for demonstrating the largest hydrogen fuel cell aircraft and has secured significant agreements with airframe original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) relevant to ZA600, such as Textron Aviation and Otto Aviation.
Natilus has garnered substantial order commitments, with over $6.8 billion in orders and more than 460 aircraft pre-ordered by major airlines and integrators, including Ameriflight, Volatus Aerospace, Flexport, Astral, Aurora International, and Dymond. The company is currently focused on constructing a full-scale Kona technology demonstrator, which will boast an impressive wingspan of 85 feet (26 meters).