The Slovenian aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel has unveiled a new range of unmanned aircraft with hybrid propulsion for cargo flights. The aircraft of the Nuuva series take off and land vertically and purely electrically; an internal combustion engine is used for the actual flight.
The top model, called Nuuva V300, is a revolutionary long-range large-capacity heavy-weight autonomous eVTOL UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) for logistics and aerial cargo delivery. It can carry payloads of up to 460 kg, take off and land vertically, and fly the rest of the flight like a conventional aircraft carried by two highly efficient wings.
The Nuuva V300 takes-off and lands using eight independent battery-powered Pipistrel E-811 electric engines. The E-811 is an engine with a maximum power of 57.6 kW (77 hp), developed by Pipistrel, that recently received its first type certification, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
The entire drive is controlled by an integrated health self‑monitoring system. Nuuva V300’s batteries can be recharged simply by plugging-in to a SkyCharge by Pipistrel and Green Motion charging station. The electric drive is combined with an internal combustion engine in the aft fuselage, powers the aircraft in cruise flight, offering unbeatable fuel economy and low maintenance costs.
Pipistrel intends the Nuuva V300 for a wide range of missions. For operators who value greater range, the vehicle’s payload capacity and anti-ice capabilities can be traded-off for more usable fuel. With a low freight weight of around 50 kilograms, the range of the aircraft increases to up to 2,500 kilometers – all this without compromising the ability to take-off and land vertically. The ability of the V300 to climb vertically to a height of up to 8,000 feet, i.e., around 2,400 meters.
At lower take-off altitudes and with shorter mission requirements, the payload can be increased to up to 460 kg, beating the coveted 1,000 lb threshold. The aircraft manufacturer emphasizes that the V300 operates 10x more economically than today’s helicopters, requires no runways, and brings enhanced safety and reliability using type-certified electric engines.
The smaller sibling V20 has the same architecture, notably with its two offset wings fitted with electric control surfaces, but is designed for light courier services with a payload of up to 20 kilograms. The cargo drone is intended for last-miles delivery missions. It is also equipped with eight electric powertrains for take-off and landing and another for propulsion. The powers are obviously lower than those of the V300.
Pipistrel is already taking orders for the new Nuuva series. The first customers can expect V20 as early as 2021. On the other hand, buyers of V300 will have to wait until the second half of 2023.