Elroy Air Expands Partnership with US Air Force to Advance its Chaparral VTOL Platform to Acquisitions
San Francisco, California, December 18, 2020 — Elroy Air, an aerospace and logistics company developing Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aerial cargo systems, announced that it has won a Phase 3 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with Agility Prime, a non-traditional program in the US Air Force seeking to accelerate the commercial market for advanced air mobility vehicles. The goals of this new contract are to fund technical demonstrations and performance validations including flights of its next-generation Chaparral aircraft to transition the Chaparral program to acquisitions by the Air Force.
"We are enthusiastic to expand our existing partnership with the US Air Force," said David Merrill, CEO of Elroy Air. "The Agility Prime program has a mandate to field a substantial fleet of electric and hybrid-electric VTOL aircraft systems in the next three years, to address operational situations that are challenging with today’s aircraft. Elroy Air's Chaparral will enable a new concept of operations (CONOPS) for flying cargo and observation equipment in difficult-to-access areas. These systems will make ultra-responsive logistics possible, transforming the capabilities of the supply chain for the Air Force’s defense and humanitarian aid missions. The Elroy Air team is leading the industry with our development of the Chaparral system."
"The same product development effort that is required to build a high-performing aerial cargo system for the commercial logistics sector will result in a system that can be readily put to use by the Air Force," said Kofi Asante, Head of Strategy & Business Development. "Our partnership with the Air Force will help us optimize our system to serve life-critical missions globally. In the commercial market, our customers are signing up to use the Chaparral for express parcel transport, humanitarian aid, and pharmaceutical and disaster relief missions. All of these scenarios require a high level of reliability, flexibility, and throughput to ensure that critical supplies and goods reach the communities where they are needed."
Elroy Air is a leader in the recent cohort of companies developing unmanned VTOL systems for aerial mobility. Unique to Elroy Air’s Chaparral platform is its deployment of specialized systems for cargo, including a hybrid-electric powertrain enabling long range deliveries, and automated cargo-handling for rapid and unattended loading and unloading. These developments are a response to a global pilot shortage and growing demand for more flexible and rapid logistics capabilities for the company's government and commercial customers.
"We are thrilled to be working with Elroy Air to help validate the Chaparral platform value and capability to the US Air Force," said Major John "Wasp" Tekell, deputy of Agility Prime and point of contact for Elroy Air’s new contract. "The Air Force supports a wide range of military and humanitarian missions, and our objectives can often be difficult or dangerous to accomplish with manned aircraft. We have a mandate to field an initial operational capability by 2023 of the next generation of unmanned VTOL aerial systems. Elroy Air typifies the kind of innovative company Agility Prime is partnering with, and they are already well down the path in developing a system that we believe can meet both commercial and government needs. With this partnership we look forward to working with the Elroy Air team to evaluate Chaparral for Air Force use cases, while the Elroy Air team keeps focused on developing a dual-use system — it’s a win-win-win situation for the company, the Air Force, and the nation."
Elroy Air will be focused on operational test and evaluation (OT&E) of its platform and subsystems. The contract is a Phase III SBIR award, which intends to knock down any remaining barriers to adoption and acquisition of Chaparral for use by the US Air Force. The contract also opens a channel for additional US Government business with Elroy Air.
About the Chaparral
Chaparral is the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aerial cargo platform in development by Elroy Air at its headquarters in San Francisco, CA. It is a transitioning “lift + cruise” VTOL aircraft with separate vertical and cruise flight lift propulsors and hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range mission capabilities. The first version of the Chaparral will carry 250–300lbs of cargo over a 300-mile range.
The Elroy Air team has designed the Chaparral system for high-throughput aerial logistics requiring minimal pilots and operators. The company 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 system can retrieve another pre-packed outbound pod and transport the pod to its next destination, creating a bi-direction conveyor belt through the sky. The Chaparral system is designed for autonomous flight operations, and can be partially remotely-piloted to comply with civil aviation authorities and airspace integration policy.
About Elroy Air
Elroy Air is an aerospace and logistics company developing industry-first autonomous aircraft systems and software to expand the reach of express shipping to 1Bn people worldwide. Building on the powertrain and perception technology currently enabling the hybrid-electric/autonomous vehicle revolution, its vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aerial logistics systems can operate outside of airport infrastructure evolve the possible in commercial air cargo, to expand delivery locations and reduce timeframes, provide immediate aid and relief in disaster and firefighting situations, and rapid autonomous resupply for troops in the field.
Elroy Air was founded in 2016 by leaders in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), product development and software. The company is financed by some of the top venture firms in the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, including Catapult Ventures, Levitate Capital, Lemnos, Precursor Ventures, Haystack, Shasta Ventures, TenOneTen, Amplify Partners, Homebrew, Hemisphere Ventures, DiamondStream Partners, E14 Fund, City Light, Side X Side Management, Venture Investment Associates, early Uber employees and pioneering angel investors.
The company has attracted a diverse and talented team with industry experience hailing from Uber, Northrop Grumman, Scaled Composites, Skyryse, Honeywell and Airbus as well as academic backgrounds from Embry-Riddle, Rice, MIT, Georgia Tech and Stanford.