Dronamics, maker of the Black Swan drone, which can transport 350kg over 2,500km, aims to begin operations in EU airspace later this year – and hopes to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) from day one.

“It depends on the location and availability of [SAF],” CEO Svilen Rangelov told The Loadstar.

“But our goal would be to use that whenever it is available – as you know, the supply chain for digging up dinosaurs still reaches everywhere – unlike biofuel.”

Getting into the air requires considerable energy, which is why air cargo generally has a far higher carbon footprint than ground or sea transport. Dronamics aims to get around this by using bio- and synthetic fuels, which it says, have been fully tested with the Rotax engines it is using.

The company believes it has uncovered viable strategies which make it possible to spare CO2 emissions, not only compared with conventional cargo aircraft, but also with ground transport.

“You are still battling gravity – but if you look at our shape of our aircraft, it is a lot like a glider… [the Black Swan] actually uses a minimal amount of energy to fly compared with other aeroplanes,” Mr Rangelov said.

Additional savings are to be found in reducing the number of steps in the supply chain. A single Black Swan UAV, Dronamics claims, has a payload of 350kg – around half the gravimetric capacity of an L1H1 van – and could land on dirt runways.

Pressure from customers to eliminate CO2 is ever-present, Mr Rangelov explained.

“We do not suffer from a lack of ambition. But to be honest, [demand] is something we see a lot. It comes from our customers’ customers and their shareholders. When you see how big funds like BlackRock are saying this is a big thing for them… it really forces everyone.”

The company, which already has an agreement with DHL, aims to begin operations by the end of this year, when it expects to have achieved certification to allow it to operate drone flights in European airspace. Post-Brexit, getting the nod to fly in the UK will take longer, but Dronamics expects it by end 2023.

The company was recently lauded by CarbonNeutral, a company which bestows accolades based on companies’ intention to decarbonise.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.