Natilus and Ameriflight Unveil Pilot Operations Desk for Next-Gen Cargo Drones

Published: Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Natilus and Ameriflight have developed a ground control station for training remote pilots of drones that is anticipated to reduce operational costs for Natilus autonomous aircraft customers.
Designed to seamlessly integrate with the Natilus family of next-generation cargo aircraft, the Natilus Pilot Operations Desk (POD) connects to a cloud network that manages the real-time data filtering and layering for the pilot.
The cloud manages the different data streams including redundant command and control (C2) links, redundant air traffic control (ATC) communications, 4D air traffic situational awareness, meteorological data, relevant airspace advisories, and more to facilitate continuous, real-time operational decision.
Eventually, one operator will be able to monitor up to three Natilus aircraft from the POD, said Natilus. Due to the scalability of the development, pilots will also be able to work from an operations center closer to where they live.
US cargo airline Ameriflight, which in January placed an order for 20 3.8-ton Natilus Kona autonomous feeder cargo aircraft, is carrying out hands-on testing, providing feedback to refine the POD and make it ready for real-world cargo operations.
“Our partnership with Ameriflight closes the loop with our customers, bringing operational requirements into the fold early in the POD development,” said Natilus.
“Ameriflight is proud to partner with Natilus on this state-of-the-art aircraft and the technology that’s being created alongside it. We’re impressed with Natilus’ continued commitment and recognition of the air cargo industry need, directly demonstrated by their hands-on and collaborative approach to receiving feedback on needed capabilities,” said Ameriflight chief executive Alan Rusinowitz.
“We look forward to our continued partnership and ultimately to implementing the Natilus aircraft into our operation to ensure the success of additional business growth opportunities on our horizon.”
Natilus currently has more than $6.8bn in order commitments, and 460+ aircraft in pre-orders, from companies including major airlines and integrators: Ameriflight, Volatus Aerospace, Flexport, Astral, Aurora International, and Dymond.
The company is currently working on construction of a full-scale Kona technology demonstrator, which will have a wingspan of 85 ft.
Natilus is also developing Alisio – a 60-ton payload medium/long range UAV, and Nordes – a 100-ton payload long-range UAV.