Leap Aerospace and the magical supersonic VTOL zero-carbon airliner
South Africa's Priven Reddy has come out with some outrageous claims about his new supersonic zero-carbon VTOL airline business – so outrageous that we think you'll enjoy learning all about them.
"If you are tired of long waiting hours due to the traditional flights, the wait is over now." So says self-proclaimed South African "tech mogul" Priven Reddy, founder of the latest company to throw its hat into the supersonic passenger aircraft space.
L.E.A.P. Aerospace is the name, an acronym that stands for "Limitless Earth Advancement Program," in the same way that New Atlas stands for "Neat Emerging World-Altering Technologies, Lasers And Stuff." And the company has gone live with some really cool renders of an upcoming delta-winged 65-88 seat supersonic airliner it says will get you from brekkie in New York to lunch in London in a 3-hour hop "at a twice greater speed, much greater than the speed of sound."
That's Mach 1.9, the company later confirms, at an altitude of 60,000 feet. Heck, stand on tippy toes and you might nearly get your space wings. Further details are scant, but Leap says the aircraft will boast "the world’s first ever safe-landing mechanism, which in the event of a complete engine failure or malfunction, the aircraft will still safely land on ground or ocean, minimizing fatalities." That sure sounds nice, I want that on my next plane too.
This has aspirations of being a boomless cruise aircraft capable of skirting the sound barrier without causing sonic mayhem on the ground below. Or as Leap puts it, "our emergence on the horizon aims to mute the sonic Boom on technical grounds."
And the magnificent high-tech achievements don't end there. Leap says its EON-01 will boast "the first-ever bladeless technology for managing the hypersonic aircraft." So you can call your local blade manufacturer and tell 'em the jig is up. What's more, this supersonic monster will be "up to 100x quieter than a helicopter," and it's designed such that it "transitions to forward flight gradually gaining speed with operational efficiency similar to an aeroplane." Transitions to forward flight? Does that mean ... Oh look, yes, it's a VTOL! "The low noise is generated with the help of small propellers for landing and takeoff."
And then there's this: "As the plane aims to operate on net-zero carbon emission so it can achieve a length of 205 ft at a speed of MACH 1.9." If you can untangle a meaning from that sentence, we'd love to hear it. But it sure is a fine length to achieve.
Astute readers may have detected a hint of skepticism in our tone here. Dangit, you caught us out. Passenger aircraft manufacturing is one heck of a business to try to break into, and taking things supersonic increases difficulty by orders of magnitude.
This became abundantly clear back in May when well-funded operation Aerion folded, despite having billionaire backing, partnerships with Lockheed Martin and Boeing, US$10 billion in pre-sales of its US$120 million AS2 business jet, high-level aerospace talent on board and a US$300 million global headquarters under construction in Florida. Poof, gone, after 17 years of promising-looking effort, because the enormous funding required to get the aircraft prototyped, certified and into serial production just wasn't out there.
Leap has none of the above. Its credibility at this stage rests solely on the founder behind it, Priven Reddy. So let's take a brief look at the man. Well. There's a lot of information out there about Reddy, and a lot of it has a certain smell to it.
Take this WotHappen profile, which starts out by saying mysteriously that "he is currently 37 years but his date of birth is unknown," but goes on to say "Priven was a hard-working man who was willing to go to any length to succeed. Even with humble beginnings and struggles in life, he kept working at his big picture until he was able to make it in life." It then goes into the "eight codes that are his driving force in life." Take a good look and convince me he didn't write that himself, I challenge you.
And then there's this fawning day-in-the-life "tale of pure inspiration" from SABC's Top Billing, during which Reddy proudly reveals with a straight face that he drives around in a Lamborghini with custom plates reading "XTN GREY." I'm not here to judge you if you know who Christian Grey is, and I hope you'll extend me the same courtesy. He's the spank-happy bondage billionaire from 50 Shades of Grey. You can't judge someone's aviation business acumen based on their taste in literature, but Reddy's desperate efforts to paint himself as a playboy don't paint a pretty picture.
There are multiple copies of articles with titles like "7 self-made millionaires who started with nothing," and plenty of talk about Reddy's big business play of creating Krypteum, a cryptocurrency that trades itself for you, using AI analysis of the market to figure out peak times to buy and sell itself on your behalf, or something.
Indeed, it takes until page five of the Google search results for fraud allegations to start appearing. Now, if I was in the business of reputation management and I achieved that kind of result, I'd be pretty happy with myself. Nobody's going to find something on page five of Google! But if I really wanted to make sure those stories got buried, I might try to associate my client's name with something outrageous and headline-grabbing to really flood the search results.
Anyway, we digress. Reddy's magical silent supersonic zero-carbon VTOL airliner is "likely to take the first commercial flight service in 2029." We can't wait. I'll drive my Bulgarian Batmobile down to the airstrip to meet it.
Source: Leap Aerospace
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. . . means that the aircraft will be powered by liquid hydrogen, which shrinks the length of the air frame, while the exhaust will only be water. At full speed, air friction on the structure will heat it to as much as 150 C to expand the length of the aircraft to 205 ft. . . . Job Done!