Unmanned Cargo Aircraft (UCA) can be both cheaper to operate and more productive than manned cargo aircraft.
Cheaper because less personnel is required; one controller on the ground can handle a number of UCA and on long flights there is no need for an extra crew. Furthermore, a UCA can be built more cheaply than a manned aircraft (there is no need for life support systems etc.) and fuel consumption can be reduced by opting for a relatively low cruising speed. A higher productivity is possible because, for example, crew flight time limitations and the need to return crews to their operating base are absent.
The advantages of UCA manifest themselves in particular with small planes (where, for example, crew salary expenses constitute a relative large percentage of operating cost). This means that UCA potentially do not merely compete with existing air transport assets, but can also open new markets. Worldwide there are still many areas that are deprived of high-quality transport because demand is uneconomically low or because geographical barriers limit the efficiency of ground infrastructure.
The Platform for Unmanned Cargo Aircraft (PUCA) aims to facilitate the development of unmanned cargo aircraft (UCA) and to let its members play a meaningful and profitable role in this development. PUCA aims to capitalize on the strengths of its members: logistics, systems integration, sensors and development of subsystems. Also visit https://www.platformuca.org/