Elroy Air and NASA Partner to Integrate Advanced Autonomous Cargo Aircraft Into US Airspace

Elroy Air
4 min readJan 29, 2021


Trailblazing Partnership Aims to Demonstrate Safe Airspace Integration For Unmanned Logistics Aircraft

San Francisco, California, January 14, 2021 — Elroy Air, the Aerospace + Logistics company developing the world’s first end-to-end automated vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aerial cargo systems, is teaming with NASA to accelerate and improve the safe integration of advanced autonomous cargo aircraft into the United States airspace.

Elroy Air’s Chaparral autonomous VTOL cargo aircraft, at Camp Roberts, CA.

The partnership is part of NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign to develop key guidance for UAM (Urban Air Mobility) operations, while addressing key challenges such as certification and standards development, in an effort to accelerate U.S. leadership in emerging automated aviation technology. The partnership will initially address critical National Campaign safety scenarios with a focus on autonomous flight and contingency management, including collision avoidance, flight path management and two-way network flight plan communications.

Through the partnership, NASA and Elroy Air intend to demonstrate key integrated operational AAM scenarios with flights of Elroy Air’s Chaparral aircraft. NASA and Elroy Air intend to collaborate on flight safety reviews and technical validation approaches, and to integrate Elroy Air’s communications systems into a NASA airspace communications framework for UAM platforms that builds upon lessons learned from the NASA UTM (Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Traffic Management) project. With support from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NASA and Elroy Air will test and demonstrate AAM scenarios in support of middle-mile aerial logistics. NASA will provide Elroy Air with simulation scenarios and software interface details to validate connection and data formats.

“This partnership enables Elroy Air to bring its expertise in developing VTOL aerial logistics platforms together with the groups at NASA driving UAM and RAM (Rural Air Mobility) to be realized in the NAS (National Airspace),” said Clint Cope, Co-Founder of Elroy Air. “The demonstrations we are planning and the frameworks we’ll develop and validate together will showcase that logistics will be a smart and large early use case for this new and exciting chapter in VTOL aerospace.”

Starr Ginn, Lead for NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign (NC) series, said “The Elroy Air team impressed us with their innovative approach to automated cargo systems and technical depth in hybrid-electric VTOL vehicle development. Their track record designing, developing, and safely testing the Chaparral and its subsystems made them a great teaming partner. The work with Elroy Air will help accelerate the realization of exciting new Advanced Air Mobility logistics missions.”

Elroy Air is the leading company in the race to field an autonomous VTOL platform for aerial logistics, to enable same-day shipping to every person on the planet. For more information about Elroy Air’s team and development trajectory please visit elroyair.com.

Link to NASA’s Press release: https://www.nasa.gov/centers/armstrong/features/cargo-delivery-partner-joins-NASAs-advanced-air-mobility-project.html

About the Chaparral

The Chaparral is the VTOL aerial cargo system in development by Elroy Air at its headquarters in San Francisco, CA. It is a transitioning lift+cruise VTOL aircraft with separate vertical and cruise flight lift systems and hybrid-electric powertrain for long-range flight capabilities. The first production version of the Chaparral will carry 300 lbs of cargo over a 300 mi range.

The Elroy Air team has designed the system for high-throughput aerial cargo transport needing minimal pilots and operators. The company has developed lightweight, aerodynamic modular cargo pods that can be pre-loaded by ground staff and picked up by the aircraft before takeoff. At the delivery location, the pod is lowered to the ground and released after the system has landed. Upon depositing a cargo pod, the system can retrieve another pre-packed outbound pod and fly to its next destination, creating a bi-direction conveyor belt through the sky. The system is designed for autonomous flight operations, but can be partially remotely-piloted to comply with civil aviation authorities and airspace integration policy.

Elroy Air’s Chaparral vehicle won Gold in the Industrial Designers Society of America’s 2020 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA).

About Elroy Air

Elroy Air is an autonomy and logistics company developing industry-first aerial transport systems and software to deliver cargo rapidly and flexibly by air. Building on the powertrain and perception technology currently enabling the hybrid-electric/autonomous vehicle revolution, its vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aerial logistics systems can operate outside of airport infrastructure and carry 300+ pounds of cargo over 300 miles. These systems evolve the possible in commercial air cargo, to expand delivery locations and reduce timeframes, provide immediate aid and relief in disaster and firefighting situations, and rapid autonomous resupply for troops in the field.

Elroy Air was founded in 2016 by leaders in unmanned aerial systems (UAS), product development and software. The company is financed by some of the top venture firms in the Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, including Catapult Ventures, Levitate Capital, Lemnos, Precursor Ventures, Haystack, Shasta Ventures, TenOneTen, Amplify Partners, Homebrew, Hemisphere Ventures, Diamondstream Partners, E14 Fund, City Light, Side X Side Management, Venture Investment Associates, early Uber employees and pioneering angel investors.

The company has attracted a diverse and talented team with industry experience hailing from Uber, Northrop Grumman, Scaled Composites, Skyryse, AeroVironment and Airbus as well as academic backgrounds from Embry-Riddle, Rice, MIT, Georgia Tech and Stanford.

For more information, follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or visit elroyair.com.


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Our mission at Elroy Air is to enable same-day shipping to every person on the planet.