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Electric Record Holder Enters Market With Inexpensive Cargo Drone

  • Unpowered Silent Arrow® delivers 700 lb. and costs less than $10,000
  • Development of electric-powered reusable varient begins

by Graham Warwick for Aviation Week, March 26-April 8, 2018


Chip Yates is best known for breaking speed records with an electric-powered motorcycle and aircraft. It is ironic, therefore, that the first product from his company, Yates Electrospace, should be an unmanned cargo glider.


Yates has exceeded 200 mph on the ground and in the air. He is currently rebuilding his Long-ESA electric aircraft in a bid to set more records. He is also working on a new aircraft, codenamed VFP—for Very Fast Plane—with which he plans to push the speed record on electric power beyond 400 mph.


Yates Electrospace has also done consulting work with several companies developing electric aircraft, including with startup Wright Electric on its plans to develop a battery-powered short-haul airliner. But the company's focus for now is on taking the Silent Arrow® cargo delivery UAV into large-scale production.


Under development since 2014, the GD-700 Silent Arrow® is an inexpensive, disposable glider that can deliver up to 700 lb. of cargo from a standoff distance of 23-49 mi. when air-launched from a helicopter or air-lifter at an altitude of 12,000-25,000 ft., respectively.


(See March 26-April 8, 2018 Aviation Week & Space Technology for the full article)

U.S. Marines To Test Disposable Resupply UAV

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to test an unmanned, disposable glider that can be launched from a transport aircraft to inexpensively but precisely deliver supplies to ground forces. 


Startup Yates Electrospace will supply unpowered versions of its Silent Arrow electric-powered unmanned cargo aircraft to the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory (MCWL). Under the 12-month program, the company will build and test 10 aircraft with gross weights to 500-1,000 lb.  


Goals set by the MCWL include delivering 700 lb. of supplies to within 150 ft. with a low-cost, single-use aircraft, Yates says. This would reduce resupply costs by an order of magnitude while not compromising the position of forces being resupplied through noise or the need to recover the UAV. 


The tandem-wing glider is designed to be deployed from a Lockheed Martin C-130 airlifter, Bell Boeing MV-22 tiltrotor or Sikorsky CH-53 helicopter from altitudes of 10,000-25,000 ft. and to achieve a glide ratio of between 8:1 and 15:1, for a range of 15-70 mi. 


Yates was founded in 2012 by electric vehicle pioneer Chip Yates, who holds records for the fastest electric motorcycle (at 200 mph) and electric aircraft (exceeding 220 mph). In addition to its UAV business, Yates includes electric-aircraft developer Avius Electric and a research arm focused on midair recharging, kinetic energy recovery and drone delivery. 


Yates’ website cites company milestones including a design contract with startup Wright Electric, which is developing an all-electric short-haul airliner, design of a nine-seat hybrid-electric commuter aircraft, and construction of a 500-kW contra-rotating electric propulsion unit.  —Graham Warwick, graham.warwick@aviationweek.com 


(See Media Downloads above for the full article on page 4 of the AerospaceDaily Dec. 5, 2017 edition)

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