Dublin-based aircraft rental company LCI is ordering up to 40 cargo drones
Dublin-based aircraft rental company LCI has ordered up to 40 autonomous vertical take-off and landing cargo planes to be developed in California.
The new drones are designed to transport up to 225 kg of cargo and can fly 555 km.
It is envisaged that the unmanned aircraft, manufactured by Elroy Air, could be used for commercial logistics, but also for disaster relief, firefighting and other humanitarian missions. It could also have military applications.
Last year, LCI ordered up to 125 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from US-based Beta Technologies.
LCI, a unit of US-based Libra, is among lessors betting there will be a significant opportunity to deploy electric air taxis and autonomous cargo planes, especially given a larger push toward decarbonization. In the world’s major metropolitan areas, they are also seen as a way to avoid severe congestion on road networks.
The cargo plane ordered by LCI, named The Chaparral, is a hybrid electric vehicle.
Under the terms of the deposit guarantee agreement, LCI will initially purchase 20 aircraft with an option for a total of up to 40 units. The eVTOL aircraft are currently being developed at Elroy Air’s facility in south San Francisco.
“This commitment to the pioneering Chaparral system will position us to efficiently support mission-critical, logistical remote work and socially responsible humanitarian efforts around the world,” said Jaspal Jandu, Chief Executive of LCI.
“This is part of our broader strategy for advanced air mobility and will strengthen LCI’s position as a leading provider of leasing, financing and investment solutions to this new and exciting market,” he added.
Dublin-based leasing firm Avolon has also made a big bet on eVTOL aircraft. It has ordered hundreds of aircraft from British firm Vertical Aerospace and has already placed them with airlines around the world.
The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California and is funded by world-class venture capital firms such as Catapult Ventures, Marlinspike Capital and Shield Capital, strategic investors such as Lockheed Martin Ventures and Prosperity7, and pioneering angel investors including early Uber executives.
Elroy Air’s Chaparral – which costs about $2 million – is the first end-to-end autonomous eVTOL cargo delivery system.
https://www.independent.ie/business/dublin-based-aircraft-lessor-lci-orders-up-to-40-cargo-drones-42278751.html Dublin-based aircraft rental company LCI is ordering up to 40 cargo drones