In transportation and logistics, when pitched against ocean shipping, air cargo, although fast, often takes the back seat owing to its cost, the complexities of the loading and unloading process, and the crew payroll.
Also, airports still prioritize passenger traffic and flow over cargo-causing delays to shipments’ making Air Cargo a comparatively less opted mode.
Setting the runway for smoother air cargo operations, UK-based airline, and aviation company Droneliner has announced its futuristic cargo aircraft. These air bodies are cargo-friendly, crewless, and futuristic in every aspect of look and operations.
Unlike the rounded cylindrical shape of aircraft that are designed to carry passengers and small packages, the Droneliner is shaped like a smooth-edged rectangular box, allowing conventional-style 20-ft (6-m) intermodal shipping containers to be rolled on and off via ramps in its wide-opening front and rear ends.
This cargo-friendly aircraft body is also remotely piloted. This helps provide same-day or next-day bulk cargo delivery worldwide. Also, because it is remotely operated, no crew allowances have to be made on any onboard crew, thus reducing costs.
Droneliner can reduce airfreight costs by over 70%, making it comparable to sea freight in price while also reducing delivery time and emissions, thus making air transport a feasible option for many goods. Removing crew from the aircraft gives flexibility in engine placement and fuel management.
As of now, the UK-based company has unveiled the concept of two different aircraft, DL200 and DL350.
It is equipped with a hybrid turbofan single-boosted engine with electric power. The Droneliner DL200 can accommodate more than 40 containers on two levels, with a maximum cargo weight of 200 tons. The maximum take-off weight capacity of DL200 is 350 tons.
It is integrated with the hybrid twin turbofan engines with EV power. The DL350 can accommodate over 80 containers in three deck levels, with a maximum cargo weight capacity of 350 tons. The maximum take-off weight capacity of DL350 is 600 tons.
Both the cargo aircraft have a full range of 6,500 nautical miles (12,038 km).
Droneliner is designed to be the most fuel-efficient long-haul cargo aircraft with a hybrid system to support payload to fuel, take-off, landing, and taxiing, no bleed air regenerative power supply, and an aerodynamic design. It is focused on a fuel-efficient ultra-low-drag airframe for drag reduction. The fuel efficiency of the aircraft will enable it to cover long distances in a single flight.
Additionally, it also makes Droneliner the perfect candidate for the more expensive and uncommon Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) and Hydrogen fuel solutions. This will allow the journey to net zero emissions by reducing 95% of carbon emissions while massively reducing operating costs.
The Droneliner aircraft also features a more than 90% reduction in handling costs and low-cost modular construction.
This futuristic cargo aircraft body can be utilized for various purposes such as military and civilian containerized intermodal freight, air-to-air refuelling (tow-and-lock fuel tanks), military airdrop (with remote ‘pinch-point’ release), disaster relief, and virus-free unmanned delivery, emergency aid, and supplies.