Elroy Air’s VTOL Chaparral: Revolutionizing Cargo Transportation

An Elroy Air VTOL Chaparral aircraft in the hangar
Photo Credit: Elroy Air

In the dynamic world of autonomous cargo systems, Elroy Air is making waves with its cutting-edge VTOL Chaparral aircraft.

This innovative “lift plus cruise” hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) cargo system has taken the industry by storm. To this end, Elroy Air has secured commitments from partners in the commercial, defense and humanitarian markets including Mesa Airlines, Bristow and FedEx.

With a demand backlog now exceeding 1,000 vehicles in 2023, Elroy Air is potentially reshaping the future of logistics.

Chaparral: Elroy Air’s Autonomous Cargo Technology

Elroy Air, a pioneering company in autonomous cargo technology, is making headlines with its remarkable Chaparral aircraft.

This state-of-the-art hybrid-electric VTOL cargo system is poised to revolutionize the way goods are transported worldwide.

The year 2023 marked a significant milestone for Elroy Air, as the demand backlog for its Chaparral aircraft exceeded an impressive 1,000 aircraft.

This unprecedented level of orders gives a sense the industry’s interest in Elroy Air’s innovative solution.

Elroy Air has forged strategic partnerships with leading players in various sectors, including commercial, defense, and humanitarian markets. Notable collaborators include Mesa Airlines, Bristow, and FedEx.

In September, Elroy Air announced a deposit-backed agreement with Bristow for five Chaparral VTOL cargo drones, expanding on Bristow’s earlier letter of intent to pre-order 100 Chaparral systems in July 2022.

These commitments solidify the Chaparral’s position as a game-changer in cargo transportation.

Hybrid-Electric VTOL Efficiency

The Chaparral aircraft offers a range of advantages that set it apart from traditional cargo systems.

Leveraging a “lift plus cruise” hybrid-electric system, the Chaparral combines the benefits of electric propulsion and turbo-generation. This innovative approach ensures efficient autonomous operations and enables longer-range missions.

Composite Airframe Design

Render of an Elroy Air Chaparral VTOL aircraft in flight.
Image Credit: Elroy Air

The Chaparral features an advanced carbon composite airframe, making it both lightweight and durable. Its modular design allows it to fit inside a standard 40-foot container or cargo aircraft like a C-130, facilitating rapid global deployment.

Elroy Air has introduced advanced modular cargo pods that seamlessly complement the Chaparral’s capabilities. Ground personnel pre-load these pods, which are autonomously retrieved by the Chaparral aircraft before takeoff.

Upon arrival at the delivery location, the aircraft autonomously lowers the pod to the ground and retrieves the next one. This process creates a seamless bi-directional conveyor belt through the sky, streamlining cargo handling.


The Chaparral aircraft is proudly on display at the UP.Summit, held in October 2023. This exclusive annual gathering brings together the world’s most innovative minds in transportation and mobility.

Entrepreneurs, investors, and leaders from various fields unite to explore cleaner, faster, safer, and more cost-effective ways of moving people and goods, whether on the ground, in the air, on the sea, or in space.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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