California-based Reliable Robotics, which has been testing gate-to-gate fully automated operations with Part 23 aircraft for several years, plans to launch cargo flights later this year under a subsidiary. To that end, it has appointed a number of executives with feeder freighter experience, it said in a statement on January 11.

The company has been developing technology to automate fixed-wing aircraft and will eventually implement full automation. It has been “working with leading cargo carriers eager to integrate remotely piloted systems into their fleets,” explained Jeff Drees, Reliable Robotics’ director of cargo strategy and a former co-owner and CCO of Ameriflight (AMF, Burbank). “By demonstrating crewed air cargo delivery first, we will build a solid foundation for the transition to remotely operated flights.”

As ch-aviation previously reported, Reliable Robotics used a Cessna (single turboprop) C208B owned by FedEx Express (FX, Memphis Int'l) and operated by CSA Air (IRO, Iron Mountain/Kingsford) to perform a trial automated landing in 2020 at San Martin, a public non-towered airport near San Francisco.

To prepare for commercial operations, the company has appointed David DeRose - also of Ameriflight - as director of finance and Lee Tomlinson as director of operations to its Part 135 airline subsidiary, which will handle the cargo operations. Tomlinson has worked at IFL Group, Mountain Air Cargo, West Air (United States of America), and American Medflight.

Since its founding in 2017, Reliable Robotics has set its sights on commercialising technologies for Part 23 cargo and Part 25 passenger planes. In October 2021, it raised USD100 million in Series C funding to make a total of more than USD133 million.