Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Dufour Aerospace receives a grant for its cargo drone development

Dufour Aerospace, a Swiss aviation company that developed aerobatic aircraft, announced that it was selected by Innosuisse, the innovation agency of the Swiss Confederation, for a grant. The grant was made pursuant to a 2022 call for projects under the Swiss accelerator program of Innosuisse. Fifty-two companies will receive funding, along with Dufour. The company will receive almost $3 million (CHF 2.5 million), the maximum grant available under the program.

Dufour Aerospace applied for funding to develop Dufour’s next-generation prototype of Aero2, a key step towards demonstrating the full capabilities of the commercial version of Aero2.

The first product Dufour Aerospace will launch is the Aero2, an unmanned aerial vehicle specifically designed for the transportation of critical cargo, such as medical supplies of up to 40 kilograms (88 lbs), in medium to long-range distances. Its tilt-wing design combines the best of the helicopter and airplane worlds: vertical take-off and landing on even the smallest spots and energy-efficient long-range flight at high speeds.

With its hybrid module, Aero2 offers flight time and endurance that is out of reach for today’s electric-only VTOL applications. Its payload capacity makes it an excellent fit for search and rescue (SAR) operations, long-endurance terrain and infrastructure surveillance, and transporting cargo to remote and urban areas. Its hybrid-electric powertrain promises a flight time of up to three hours or nearly 250 miles (400 km) in standard configuration (40 kg) and up to 12 hours with reduced payload.

The Aero2 has a cruise speed of up to 170 km/h (92 knots). The Aero2 will enter commercial service in 2025.

The manned Aero3, featuring a spacious cabin with eight seats and large doors, is the next aircraft in development by Dufour Aerospace.

“Dufour Aerospace is a pioneering eVTOL company, and we are pleased Innosuisse recognized our efforts to create globally leading technology in Switzerland,” said Thomas Pfammatter, co-founder and chief executive officer of Dufour Aerospace. “The grant will be used to continue our development of prototypes of the innovative Aero2 unmanned tilt-wing drone. Our team is thankful to Innosuisse for this vote of confidence in our work.”

The latest grant follows several significant milestone achievements by Dufour Aerospace. In January, the company closed a Series B financing round led by Vista Global. In late 2022, Dufour announced the largest civilian drone purchase in U.S. history, made with Spright, the drone division of Air Methods. Meanwhile, prototype development, flight testing, and software development continue a pace in Switzerland.