This is the Pelican Cargo plane and it flies without a pilot

Controlled remotely, the Pelican Cargo is the first autonomous aircraft of its class.

by | Published on 13th Jul 2023

This is Pelican Cargo, a new cargo plane that flies without anyone on board.

Developed by autonomous electric planemaker Pyka, it’s said to be the world’s largest zero-emission freighter.

Controlled remotely, the Pelican Cargo is the first autonomous aircraft of its class.

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As well as being pilotless, the aircraft can carry up to 400 pounds across 200 miles.

According to Pyka CEO Michael Norcia, the plane will start with inter-island transport.

The plane is based on another one of the company’s planes called Pelican Spray, which was built for crop dusting.

About 90 percent of Pelican Cargo, including the wings, tail, and battery, has been carried over from Pelican Spray.

Interestingly, Norcia said computers will operate the pilotless cargo plane.

So, thanks to onboard SATCOM, it can be operated from anywhere in the world.

There’s a backup computer, and if anything goes wrong, a remote operator can intervene.

The company’s also working on parachute systems so the operator has a way to terminate the flight if something goes wrong.

Pelican Cargo is fully electric and runs on a rechargeable battery located in the belly of the aircraft.

In the event that a recharge station isn’t available, the battery can be swapped out.

With a full charge, the pilotless cargo plane can travel up to 200 miles (321 kilometers).

Pelican Cargo has a 400-pound payload and 66 cubic feet cargo space, with packages loaded through a nose-door, just like a Boeing 747 or an Airbus Beluga XL.

With a full load, Pelican cargo only needs a 600-foot runway to take off and can land on pavement, grass, dirt, and gravel.

The pilotless cargo plane is currently going through rigorous testing at Pyka’s facility in Northern California.

Already, the company has secured 80 orders from three customers in North America and Europe.

The first commercial flight is expected to take place later this year.



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Adam Gray is an experienced motoring journalist and content creator based in the United Kingdom. Using his media accreditation with motor manufacturers’ press offices, Adam test drives the latest cars and attends new vehicle press launches, producing written reviews and news pieces for Before joining the Supercar Blondie team, Adam was Motoring Editor for Portfolio North magazine, North East Motoring Editor at Reach plc, and provided motoring content on a freelance basis to several lifestyle and business publications in the North of England. When he’s not behind the wheel of the latest car, Adam can be found at his local rink playing ice hockey or supporting his beloved Middlesbrough FC.

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