US-based Natilus has announced advanced purchase commitments of more than $6 billion for the delivery of more than 440 unmanned cargo aircraft in pre-orders.
Companies that expressed interest include Volatus Aerospace, Astral Aviation, Aurora International, Dymond and most recently Flexport.
Natilus, co-founded by Aleksey Matyushev and Anatoly Starikov in 2016, said the design of the family of cargo aircraft is democratizing freight transport, not by converting existing passenger aircraft but by innovating the design freight transport aircraft to increase cargo volume by 60%, while cutting costs by 60% and lowering carbon emissions by half.
“Sea freight is currently 13 times less expensive than air freight; but 50 times slower in delivery,” stated Natilus CEO Aleksey Matyushev.
“Natilus intends to revolutionize the transport industry by providing the timeliness of air freight at an affordable cost reduction of 60%, making air cargo transportation substantially more competitive.”
Fully autonomous and with remote piloting for additional security, the family of cargo aircraft will allow payloads of 8 to 130 tonnes and use existing ground infrastructure and standard air cargo containers for short-haul and long-haul routes.
The market for autonomous cargo aircraft is greater than $280 billion, based on the latest market report but the company believes that. with its price point, it will introduce a new category of freight–expanding the air freight market to $470b.
Earlier in February, Flexport completed a $900 million investment round and has signed a letter of intent (LOI) for two 100T Natilus aircraft, with an option for a third.