South African start-up advances with the design of the VBJ-1, a vertical take-off and landing airplane for eight passengers.
Aviation start-ups have been multiplying throughout the world in recent years. Born to make heterodox aircraft concepts viable, these companies want to do the same thing in the aerospace industry as Google did for Internet searches or Facebook on social networks.
The mission, however, is much more complex, but not less instigating. One of the most curious projects currently is the VBJ-1, or Vertical Business Jet, a aircraft capable of taking off and landing vertically.
The idea for a VTOL aircraft came from Reza Mia, founder and CEO of Pegasus, a start-up based in Pretoria, South Africa. His argument makes sense: executive planes today are fast and fly away, but a lot of time is lost to get to the airports and a model that takes off with a helicopter would solve that question easily
For this reason, Mia devised the VBJ-1, an aircraft of unusual design. Its huge, thick wings have positive and negative dihedral at the ends and an “X” shaped tail that supports both GE CT7-8 turbofan engines.
In addition to boosting the VBJ1, the two engines are responsible for moving four huge lift fans inside the wings and that make the executive jet take off and landing vertically and also the in-flight transition.
Becoming a reality
Like many other innovative projects, initiatives like the VBJ run into technical difficulties and lack of investment, but the CEO of Pegasus seems excited about the progress of its VTOL executive jet. For the first time, a 1/8 scale mock-up will be presented to the public at EBACE, Europe’s largest executive aviation event, to be held May 21-23 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Reza Mia, however, promises to start building his first full-scale prototype this year in order to make the inaugural flight in 2020. With a range of 1,150 nautical miles in vertical mode or 2,380 nautical miles from a conventional runway, the VBJ -1 will be able to fly up to 430 knots (800 km/h).
Although the investment so far has come from Mia himself, the executive told Flight Global that it will take at least $ 400 million to start a production line. To do so, the plane will take part in a presentation tour in Europe in the coming months in the hope that Pegasus will be seen as the new sensation of aviation.