The flying multitool

Avy Aera 3

Head of Design
Avy Aera 3
Project summary

Designed to save lives, Avy Aera 3 is a completely new-to-the-world type of drone that revolutionizes the way in which the sky can be used by emergency services and health organizations. Just like a conventional drone, it can take off and land vertically and hover in mid-air. But its ability to transition into forward flight is what sets Avy Aera truly apart. This enables it to fly much further, longer and faster. Additionally, the aircraft can be equipped with different types of payloads to serve a wide variety of mission types — just like Thunderbird 2.

With many use cases to follow, Avy Aera 3 currently transports urgent medicines and blood samples between medical facilities, it monitors vulnerable areas for wildfires and it provides situational awareness for emergency services during calamities and natural disasters.

My role

As Head of Design, I was responsible for the design of the product throughout the entire development process. This included performing market research, determining requirements, developing the concept, detailing the product, defining the user experience and designing the product aesthetically.

I have designed the product in close collaboration with clients, operators and end users among which are the ANWB Medical Air Assistance, PostNL Health, Falck, Skyports, Port of Rotterdam and the Netherlands Fire Service. By doing so, I ensured that the product addressed market needs and it is able to handle the pressure and complexities of real-life situations.

The product was developed with a relatively small team that apart from me consisted of specialists in aeronautics, mechanical engineering, software, materials and production within a fast-paced startup environment.

Avy Aera 3 is is a fully electric drone that flies autonomously and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL). Its wingspan is 2,40 m and its maximum takeoff weight (MOTW) is 25 kg. It has a payload bay that is able to house different types of payload modules, such as temperature-controlled medical containers or gimballed cameras. This makes the aircraft highly versatile in terms of applications. The aircraft can carry payloads up to 3 kg and fly up to 100 km on a single charge.


Avy is an Amsterdam-based startup company that was founded in 2015 with the aim of developing drone technology for purposeful applications — think of transporting medicines, monitoring wildfires, search and rescue missions and saving wildlife. As a co-founder, I have been responsible for the overall design and product vision since the company was founded.

Avy Aera 3 is the successor to Avy's first VTOL aircraft: Avy Aera 1.

The challenge

After starting out with developing only aircraft, it became clear that we could increase our impact and our added value by creating fully autonomous networks, consisting of a series of products that together enable customers to easily run and scale up operations. These networks consist of not only aircraft, but also include docking stations and control towers on the landing site to enable fully autonomous operations and a command centre from which a drone network can be monitored and controlled. With the addition of swappable 'payloads', such as Avy Medkit or a gimballed camera, the network can be used for a wide variety of applications.

Using the lessons learned from the design of Aera 1, the goal for Aera 3 was to create a fully integrated product while improving flight performance. Focus on user interaction and functionality with the end user continuously in mind. Seamless integration with the other products in the Avy Drone Network.

Design a new VTOL UAV that reduces costs for operators, while making use of the experience that that was gained from developing, testing and using Avy Aera 1.

The process

Key drivers for the design process
  • Use case fit — In close collaboration with clients and operators, use cases have been thoroughly mapped out. Among other insights, requirements with regard to functionality, flight performance and user interaction were collected through of interviews, observations and workshops. Additionally, the most important operational parameters (such as flight distance, payload weight and cruise speed) were identified to optimize towards.
  • Network integration — After the introduction of Aera 1, auxiliary products such as a docking station and a swappable payload module were developed. Since Aera 1 was not designed with network integration in mind, the possibilities for automating the operation were limited. Seamless integration with other products in network was a key element for designing Aera 3.
  • Integrated design — Aera 1 was almost entirely built up using off-the-shelf components. Although this allowed for more flexibility in development and a shortened development cycle, it turned out to be a limiting factor in functionality and performance. A decision was therefore made to design Aera 3 as a more integrated product consisting of more proprietary components. The aircraft has also been completely redesigned from an aerodynamical and an aesthetic point of view.
  • User experience — For each of the main use cases, extensive step-by-step use scenarios were drafted. For every stakeholder, product and touchpoint in the scenario, the required user interaction and corresponding requirements were defined. Usability and user-friendliness are at the core of the product.
  • Production — Composite material is an expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive material to work with. Because of this, particular effort has been made to make Aera 3 easier to manufacture and assemble. Challenging lead times in combination with weight and cost targets resulted in a simple, yet ingenious structural design.


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