Dufour Aerospace will be testing its Aero2 drone, and plans to restart development of its manned Aero3 vertical takeoff and landing-capable aircraft next year.
“We are currently test-flying the third-generation prototype of Aero2 in Switzerland and we will have a fourth-generation prototype that is going to be a hybrid-electric aircraft,” Chief Commercial Officer Sascha Hardegger told Cargo Facts at the Association for Uncrewed Vehicles International’s XPONENTIAL 2023 exhibition and conference in Denver last week. “And then we will start the serial production based on the fourth generation.”
Dufour Aerospace expects to begin testing the fourth-generation prototype of its 40-kilogram-capable Aero2 cargo drone early next year, with the platform becoming commercially available in 2025, Hardegger said.
Aero2’s commercial availability is slightly delayed from 2024 targets announced when Gilbert, Ariz.-based Spright became the launch customer of the aircraft late last year.
With the Aero2 advancing through testing, Dufour will soon restart activation of the Aero3, a 2.8-tonne-capable manned advanced air mobility platform that builds upon the Aero2’s tilt-wing design for passenger and cargo activation.
“The fundamentals that we work out with Aero2 today all serve on the road to Aero3,” Hardegger said. “It’s easier to build a somewhat smaller system, an uncrewed system first, and then move from there.”
Dufour will shift its focus back to the Aero3 when its Aero2 drone begins to prove itself on the market.
“Our mission is to restart the program, to put more emphasis on the Aero3 program within the next two years,” Hardegger said. “We’d have to see how the markets develop the investments then.”