Cargo drone developer Natilus has selected Pratt & Whitney Canada to supply the engines for its autonomous N3.8T blended wing body cargo aircraft design.
San Diego-based Natilus told Cargo Facts that it selected the PT6A-67 for its reliability, MRO support network and the 5,000-hour time between overhaul (TBO) allowing longer life cycles between major down time.
The selected PT6A-67D engine design, a variant of the popular PT6A turboprop engine, can provide 700-1,900 standard horsepower (SHP).The company spent a year on the engine selection and considered larger engines with more SHP to provide support for short-field take-off performance but decided the -67D would be a good balance for all its customers, it told Cargo Facts.
The PT6A-67D can run on 50% blend of sustainable aviation fuels. Natilus has pledged both 50% fewer carbon emissions per flight and a 60% reduction in cost and told Cargo Facts it is working with Pratt & Whitney engineers to increase the -67D’s SAF capability.
Production of the first prototype aircraft is already underway and will utilize used -67Ds for its first flight, according to Natilus. The company is also in the process of procuring more feedstock engines.
The company hopes to have the N3.8T flying by 2024, with deliveries expected in 2025. The first production delivery is intended for Volatus Aerospace. The autonomous cargo aircraft is the smallest of four blended- wing body designs that Natilus is developing. The larger 60T, 100T and 130T variants will all be produced after the initial aircraft.
Nautilus recently began operations at its newly acquired production facility at San Diego’s Brown Field (SDM).The manufacturer has also received more than more than $6 billion in advance purchase agreements for more than 440 units.
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