FedEx says it will start testing an autonomous hybrid eVTOL that can carry up to 500 pounds as far as 300 miles. The company said the trials with the Elroy Chaparral will start in 2023 and begin the process of getting certification for pilotless delivery. “We look forward to continued testing and learning throughout our collaboration with Elroy Air,” said FedEx senior VP Joe Stephens. The Chaparral has eight rotors, four of which rotate to provide forward thrust after a vertical takeoff. An engine and generator in the fuselage provide power for the individual electric motors spinning the rotors, making the 300-mile range possible.
Elroy VP Kofi Asante said aircraft like the Chaparral have the potential to fundamentally change the package delivery business. “When you’re not limited by challenging infrastructure, traffic or airports, logistics can reach more people, faster than ever before,” Asante said. “We look forward to working together to create a new future for how we get goods to people around the world.” FedEx has ordered 100 Chaparrals and Elroy says it has about 500 aircraft sold, including 150 to Mesa Airlines.