Pyka Delivers First of Three Large-scale Autonomous Electric Cargo Aircraft to AFWERX

nice pyka on runway

NEW BRAUNFELS, TX – Flight operations personnel from Pyka and AFWERX gathered on the tarmac at New Braunfels National Airport to witness the arrival of Pyka’s Pelican Cargo, a large-scale autonomous electric cargo aircraft with a 400-pound payload capacity and 200-mile range, built for remote off-airport operations. 

This is the first delivery in a fleet of three Pyka Pelican Cargo on lease to AFWERX, the innovation arm of the Department of Air Force (DAF) and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, for the United States Air Force’s Agility Prime program. The program will explore operational use cases for Pyka’s technology to address the most pressing challenges in the DAF. 

“The AFWERX Agility Prime program looks forward to learning about the deployment and operational capabilities of electric aircraft through this contract,” said Lt Col John Tekell, Agility Prime Branch Chief.  

The California-based startup, founded in 2017 in the backyard of a Silicon Valley home, is now well on its way to create and provide innovative solutions that could strengthen the national defense of the United States of America. As the largest autonomous electric cargo aircraft in its class, Pelican Cargo is able to takeoff and land in remote areas with minimal ground infrastructure, can be recharged in under 90 minutes, and requires few personnel to operate. 

“We’re proud to deliver Pelican Cargo to AFWERX for the United States Air Force’s Agility Prime program,” says Michael Norcia, Chief Executive Officer at Pyka. “Our aircraft offers an unparalleled platform for heavy-payload and long-range autonomous electric cargo logistics. We believe the DAF is an ideal customer to harness the benefits of this technology, and is helping to advance zero-emission aviation in the United States by partnering with companies like ours.”

(Mandatory disclaimer) “The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.”

About Pyka
Pyka is defining the future of safe, environmentally-friendly, and cost-effective aviation with certified autonomous electric airplanes for crop protection and cargo delivery. Pyka’s proprietary technology includes autonomous flight control software, flight computers, high energy density batteries, advanced electric propulsion systems, and carbon composite airframes.

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As the innovation arm of the DAF and a directorate within the Air Force Research Laboratory, AFWERX brings cutting-edge American ingenuity from small businesses and start-ups to address the most pressing challenges of the DAF. AFWERX employs approximately 325 military, civilian and contractor personnel at six hubs and sites executing an annual $1.4 billion budget. Since 2019, AFWERX has executed 4,697 new contracts worth more than $2.6 billion to strengthen the U.S. defense industrial base and drive faster technology transition to operational capability.

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About Agility Prime

Agility Prime is the Air Force’s vertical lift program that partners with the eVTOL commercial industry to drive the third revolution in aerospace, providing access to zero-emission aircraft for a variety of uses, including in training and operations.

About AFRL  

The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development.

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