The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Aerosud Partners with Samad To Develop Starling Cargo eVTOL Vehicle

South African aerostructures and aircraft equipment manufacturer Aerosud Aviation has started collaborating with Samad Aerospace in the development of its Starling Cargo eVTOL vehicle as it assesses whether to become a risk-sharing partner in the program. UK-based Samad has not specified which parts its new partner will make for the remotely piloted aircraft, but the company told FutureFlight that Pretoria-based Aerosud could potentially assemble complete aircraft if sufficient demand exists for it in the African market.

Samad is already testing a full-scale prototype of the freight-carrying eVTOL and intends to build a production prototype in 2022 and have it certified by 2023. According to the company’s CEO and founder, Seyed Mohseni, the aircraft will likely start commercial services flights over uninhabited land or sea before Samad seeks approval for operations in and around cities.

The Starling Cargo will carry a payload of just over 130 pounds. It is expected to have a range of up to 135 miles, a cruise speed of around 95 mph, and an operating ceiling of 10,000 feet.

“We look forward to working with Samad Aerospace to bring to market this unique Starling Cargo eVTOL, which has particular advantages in the South African and African context given sparse infrastructure to move cargo at medium to long distance at speed,” commented Aerosud director of programs Rob Jonkers. “The flexibility of Starling Cargo operations will bring a new dimension to delivery turnaround times country- and continent-wide.”

Aerosud, which has been in business for more than 30 years, has 500 employees and annual revenues of around $55 million, with clients including Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems, and Spirit Aerosystems. It holds EASA’s Part 21G approval to manufacture aircraft parts.

Meanwhile, Samad has expanded its aircraft design team by recruiting a pair of recent aerospace engineering graduates. Natasha Marples and Skif Dobney are joining the company from the UK’s Cranfield University, which specializes in the aerospace sector. Samad is based at Cranfield Airport, where the university is based, and has close connections with the school, where Mohseni earned a master's degree in aerospace propulsion, as well as an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in gas turbine technology.