LCI selects Elroy Air's Chaparral autonomous VTOL cargo aircraft

Jan. 13, 2023
The Chaparral is designed for aerial transport of up to 500 lbs of goods over a 300 nautical mile range.

DUBLIN - LCI, an aviation company and a subsidiary of Libra Group based in Dublin, needed advanced autonomous cargo aircraft systems. They found their solution from has signed an agreement with Elroy Air in San Francisco. LCI inked a deal to acquire up to 40 of the Elroy's Chaparral vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

Under the terms of the agreement, LCI will initially acquire 20 aircraft with an option for a total of up to 40 units. The VTOL aircraft are currently under development at Elroy Air's facility in South San Francisco, California.

The Chaparral is an end-to-end autonomous VTOL cargo delivery system. It is designed for aerial transport of up to 500 lbs of goods over a 300 nautical mile range. This is enabled initially by a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain with distributed electrical propulsion, and specially designed aerodynamic modular cargo pods.

The Chaparral is a transitioning "lift and cruise" VTOL aircraft with a full carbon composite airframe, and a turbine-based hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range mission capabilities. It was also designed to fit in a 40-foot shipping container or C-130 cargo aircraft, enabling it to be quickly shipped and deployed worldwide.

The Chaparral system features eight vertical lift fans, four distributed electric propulsors for forward flight, a high-wing airframe configuration, as well as improved ground autonomy and cargo-handling systems.

Elroy Air has developed lightweight, aerodynamic modular cargo pods that can be pre-loaded by ground personnel and picked up by the aircraft before takeoff. At the delivery location, the cargo pod is lowered to the ground and released after the system has landed. The Chaparral system can retrieve another pre-packed pod and transport the pod to its next destination, creating a bi-directional conveyor belt through the sky.

The new VTOL aircraft will complement LCI's existing fleet of modern helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. In addition, LCI and its parent company, Libra Group, whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in approximately 60 countries.

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