Master Thesis Research: A value analysis of unmanned aircraft operations for the transport of high time-value cargo

by J. S. F. Hoeben, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands

In order to speed up the development and integration of cargo UAS, it is necessary to
analyze and quantify the value that UAS can add in the commercial transport of cargo.
Up to now, no such quantitative research is performed. The current research tries to fill
this void by contributing to an increased understanding of the value adding capabilities
of cargo UAS.

By means of a value analysis, this research compares the value of cargo
UAS in the commercial transport of air cargo to that of conventional cargo aircraft for
specific future demand scenarios. Research findings show that unmanned or less
manned cargo aircraft are especially suited to anticipate on the future demand for the
transport of high time-value commodities. The most promising market opportunities
emerge when there is a relatively small demand for high time-value cargo transport on
long distance routes.

Especially in the situation of long distance routes and small freight
flows, the costs for transportation are high in relation to the value of the product. It is
this market segment where cargo UAS can deliver maximum additional value over
conventional cargo aircraft, given that the airline adapts its operations to facilitate the
utilization of cargo UAS specific capabilities.

Download the white paper here.