by Otilia Drăgan

Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are evolving fast and are already starting to change cargo operations. You may not be familiar with the funny-sounding name Pipistrel, but this Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer is at the forefront of electric and autonomous aviation. Most recently, it has equipped its autonomous cargo eVTOL, Nuuva V300, with revolutionary satellite communications technology. 

The Nuuva V300 is an autonomous eVTOL specifically developed for aerial cargo delivery. The 1,000 lbs (460 kg) payload, fully autonomous flight capacity and long range are just some of its main advantages. Another huge benefit is that it doesn’t require a runway, which means it can conduct air cargo operations even in areas where runways aren’t available. Plus, it’s supposed to have a ten times lower operating cost, compared to helicopters.

One thing that was missing, though, was satellite communications (SATCOM) technology. This is where Honeywell’s innovative Small UAV SATCOM comes in. Until now, only large business and commercial transport aircraft could integrate SATCOM, because of the satellite communications terminals size and weight. But Honeywell has developed the world’s smallest system of its kind, which can be integrated on small or medium-sized unmanned aircraft.

This revolutionary SATCOM system is 90% lighter than the company’s previously smallest connectivity system and 30% lighter than competing options on the market. It’s also easy to install in various areas inside the aircraft, which makes is compatible with different types of platforms. 

For unmanned aircraft, like the Nuuva V300, this means enhanced beyond-line-of-sight capabilities, plus global coverage and real-time video streaming for the ground control center. Basically, this technology connects aircraft to operators on the ground, or to air traffic control, as well as with other aircraft. This is important because it enables fleet monitoring, which was only possible for large, standard aircraft, until now.

Honeywell’s innovative SATCOm system will also be installed on Pipistrel’s smaller eVTOL UAV, the Nuuva V20, and its Suerveyor aircraft.