Jan 27, 2023
Natilus has signed a conditional purchase agreement with Ameriflight for 20 of its uncrewed regional freighters, marking the first sale of its blended-wing-body (BWB) Kona aircraft to a U.S.-based customer.
As the largest U.S.-based Part 135 operator, Ameriflight ships high-priority freight to and from remote areas across the U.S. on behalf of overnight express carriers like FedEx and UPS. The Dallas-based carrier’s freight services mostly consist of 1-to-2-hr. feeder flights using small aircraft like the Embraer EMB-120, Beechcraft 1900C and Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner. They are all aging platforms ripe for replacement by a more efficient aircraft like the Kona, Natilus CEO Aleksey Matyushev says.
“The way this aircraft was designed is to fly these sort of short-hopper feeder flights of around one to two hours, which is perfect for Ameriflight, although we can go up to six-and-a-half hours flight time,” Matyushev says. “This platform is meant to be a kind of replacement for their fleet, but still introducing new technology like autonomy and the blended wing.”