Thursday, February 22, 2024

Natilus and ZeroAvia to develop hydrogen-electric blended-wing body aircraft

The aviation industry is the world’s largest carbon emitter; zero-emission aircraft are key to decarbonizing the aviation industry, with airlines already experimenting with sustainable aviation, including electric propulsion, biofuels, and synthetic fuels.

California-based air-cargo ship designing and developing company Natilus has announced a strategic partnership with ZeroAvia to develop the Natilus Kona cargo aircraft with ZeroAvia’s ZA600 hydrogen-electric propulsion source. This partnership is focused on zero-emission and low-cost operations.

The Kona is a short-haul feeder UAV, and it will be Natilus’ first fleet to have the option of being powered by the ZeroAvia ZA600 hydrogen-electric engine for zero-emission propulsion.

The Natilus Kona, with its revolutionary autonomous blended-wing body (BWB) cargo aircraft, offers increased volume for hydrogen storage, potentially expanding the air cargo delivery industry at low cost, with low-carbon emissions and extended flight range.

The partnership with ZeroAvia will leverage its expertise in hydrogen-electric powertrain technology and Natilus’ unique design to create a scalable, long-range, and zero-emission air cargo delivery solution for the entire industry.

ZeroAvia’s 600kW hydrogen-electric powertrain will be integrated into the Kona, allowing for 3.8 tons of payload and long-range. Kona is currently under full-scale construction with an 85 ft (26 m) wingspan and is expected to fly in 2024.

After three years of extensive wind-tunnel testing, Nautilus recently validated the performance of the BWB design with quarter-scale flight testing of the Kona prototype aircraft. ZeroAvia has completed eight test flights of its prototype ZA600, a 600kW engined 19-seat testbed aircraft.

Aleksey Matyushev, Co-founder and CEO of Natilus said: “Natilus has a long-term commitment to being a responsible steward of our environment, instituting practices that can protect the environment through continual improvements to save fuel and water, reduce waste, air emissions, noise, and material consumption. The Natilus-ZeroAvia partnership goes further, bringing the talents and innovations of the two companies together to deliver much-needed innovation in the air cargo delivery industry and multiple solutions for our customers.”

This partnership between Natilus and ZeroAvia to develop an unmanned cargo aircraft will help the aviation industry decarbonize.