28 March 2023

Tupan: Innovative solutions for advanced air cargo operations

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Tupan’s CEO, Alberto Carlos Pereira Filho discusses the company’s latest innovation: Tupan Cargo, and the value it brings to the Middle East’s air freight market, as well as the firm’s planned expansion and solution upgrades.

With Dubai taking the lead as the world’s aviation capital, the UAE is poised to adopt Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) regulations far sooner than other regions across the world.

Correspondingly, the unprecedented growth of e-commerce and cross-border trade over recent years has called for new inventive air freight solutions to meet the rising demand for reliable, safe, and cost-effective cargo transport services.

With that in mind, the Sao Paulo-headquartered developer of drones and AAM solutions, Tupan has set sights on expanding operations into the rapidly growing market, by offering customisable innovative air freight solutions to meet the ever-evolving market requirements.

We sat down with Tupan’s CEO, Alberto Carlos Pereira Filho, to discuss the company’s latest innovation: Tupan Cargo, and the value it brings to the Middle East’s air freight market, as well as the firm’s planned expansion and solution upgrades.

A fundamental shift

To set the course of our conversation, Pereira starts by explaining that Tupan’s team of practised engineers from the Aeronautical Institute of Technology (ITA) challenge the concept of conventional cargo drones by developing advanced turbines in collaboration with the partner company, Turbomachine, also based in the Sao Paulo aviation cluster.

According to Pereira, life’s ever-increasing pace has driven a fundamental shift in customers’ expectations, and now they expect their products to be handed to them immediately. This, in turn, has changed the frequency at which products are delivered. Thus, there is a need for new vehicles, particularly with the industry’s current inertia toward existing and commercial models.

This shift in market requirements creates an ideal market for Tupan’s new cargo drone. Being a high-speed, vertical/short take-off and landing (HSVSTOL) aircraft, Tupan can take off vertically from any Verti-port, and therefore does not require a runway. Moreover, it offers a safe, cost-effective, and long-range solution (1000 km) to transport goods, as well as creates a new freight market for the Middle East, Pereira remarks.

Innovative solutions

Elaborating on the key features and versatile applications of the company’s products, Pereira points out that Tupan was developed to the highest safety standards for VTOL, by combining eight hybrid engines to fulfil the requirements of most regulators, adding that in case of any unforeseen challenges, the company is always ready to develop new types of aircraft and work closely with regulators to meet their distinct requirements. “We are about transport between cities and countries, not intra-city air transport. We are not here to produce air taxis but to create a new market for air cargo platforms,” he says, revealing that Tupan is currently in the process of obtaining the necessary accreditation from the UAE authorities.

According to Pereira, Tupan’s solutions can be utilised for a variety of purposes and applications, including intercity cargo transport without the need for a pilot, runway or airports, as well as to provide frictionless, accurate, and adequate point-to-point transport, leveraging their lightweight design, large load capacity, and autonomy through hybrid high-speed solutions for long-range routes.

Moreover, propeller-equipped models can be used in agricultural activities, offering low-speed flights with calculated distribution and measured outcomes. The drones can also be customised for integrated purposes, to support law enforcement forces in different scenarios.

Planned expansion

Tapping into the company’s expansion plans for 2023, Pereira notes that as part of the Dubai Aviation Cluster, Tupan will work with other cluster members to develop new local business models and offer customised, innovative solutions to cover the local market needs, adding that the company aims to target the freight market with “extensive and unique point-to-point connections between cities.”

Following the introduction of the TUPAN 300 RC at MEBAA 2022, the company’s TUPAN 1000 will make its debut at the JETEX VIP terminal in Dubai, before making its first official qualification flight in 2023.

As we bring our interview to an end, Pereira emphasises that the Tupan has been the company’s biggest challenge. “Now, it is a reality and is here to break the status quo by bringing disruptive innovation,” he says, adding that the concept will break the taboo of fixed-wing aircraft limitations.

He further notes that developing a high-speed, long-range VTOL that does not require a runway to operate was only possible with the support of the company’s partner Turbomachine, which develops customised Turbofan engines. “The excellent thrust-to-weight ratio of these engines is 10:1, as they are small turbo fans with a by-pass ratio of 2.5:1, and we are working on achieving 5:1,” he concludes.

Source: Aviation Business ME

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