Aircraft

Pegasus Vertical Business Jet: VTOL with turboshaft cruise

Pegasus Vertical Business Jet:...
South Africa's Pegasus is planning to use electric VTOL in conjunction with turboshaft cruise engines in order to provide VTOL convenience with turboshaft range and speed
South Africa's Pegasus is planning to use electric VTOL in conjunction with turboshaft cruise engines in order to provide VTOL convenience with turboshaft range and speed
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South Africa's Pegasus is planning to use electric VTOL in conjunction with turboshaft cruise engines in order to provide VTOL convenience with turboshaft range and speed
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South Africa's Pegasus is planning to use electric VTOL in conjunction with turboshaft cruise engines in order to provide VTOL convenience with turboshaft range and speed
The interior... Can look like pr
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The interior... Can look like pretty much whatever you want at this early stage. It's rated to seat seven
No helicopter or eVTOL will match the Pegasus VBJ's 472 mph top speeds
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No helicopter or eVTOL will match the Pegasus VBJ's 472 mph top speeds
Four vertical lift fans embedded in the wings enable drone-like liftoff and landing
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Four vertical lift fans embedded in the wings enable drone-like liftoff and landing
The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet from the top down
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The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet from the top down
View gallery - 5 images

Drone-like VTOL capabilities with a long-range, high-speed turboshaft cruise mode: South Africa's Pegasus Vertical Business Jet hopes to deliver the best of both worlds in a futuristic transitioning aircraft for high flyers.

The company sees convenience and utility in the touchdown-anywhere eVTOL model, but wants to offer helicopter and business jet owners a faster, longer range alternative than electric powertrains will be able to match for some time.

So, instead of dealing with the foibles of large, heavy, low-density battery packs, the VBJ will carry a pair of turboshaft engines and a maximum of 2,040 kg (4,500 lb) of fuel. If you take off and land via a runway, that fuel can take you up to 4,400 km (2,730 miles) with an endurance of around 6.6 hours. But if you route the power instead to the four vertical lift fans embedded in its fat wings to take off and land vertically, you'll burn so much gas that you'll get slightly less than half those figures.

The tradeoff for range is the ability to put the VBJ down on a rooftop heliport, or in the middle of nowhere, or on an oil rig, or a golf course or a superyacht. With cruise speeds up to 480 mph (772 km/h), it'll run rings around helicopters and eVTOLs, with a quieter cabin in which six passengers and a pilot can hear themselves think.

Eight years into development, the Pegasus team has recently performed lift, land and hover tests with a small-scale prototype, but frankly this seems to be little more than a battery-powered drone with a body kit on it; the sort of thing a team of bright high schoolers could build, if we were to be cynical. The more interesting phase of development will be integrating those turboshafts and configuring the flight control system to handle the complex transitions between hover and cruise, and from cruise back down to hover speeds across a range of weather conditions.

Four vertical lift fans embedded in the wings enable drone-like liftoff and landing
Four vertical lift fans embedded in the wings enable drone-like liftoff and landing

Pegasus says the next step is a pair of quarter-scale prototypes, and CEO Robbie Irons told Aerospace Africa he's hoping to have full-sized aircraft up and running within five years, with the engineering team feeling it was more of a six to eight year proposition.

Price? The sky's the limit. Even regular business jets are only within reach of the top 0.01 percent, and this will cost much more. Pegasus says it'll ship planes within 12 to 18 months of FAA certification, and therein lies the rub: certification of a new type of aircraft like this will be every bit as brutally expensive as the certification of a transitioning eVTOL. And electric aircraft will have the considerable advantage of multiple battery systems and redundant motors, in order to meet the incredibly strict safety standards we're starting to hear bandied about for eVTOL certification.

So certification will be a huge hurdle. That's not to say it can't be done, but you'd want to have a ton of orders on the books to justify that potentially billion-dollar process. We're interested to see how far things evolve with the upcoming quarter-scale prototypes, but right now, with only a hovering plane-shaped quadcopter to show for eight years of development, it's looking like a moon shot. Still, the dream is pretty cool, and you can check out the VBJ vision in the short video below.

Updated Presentation Video 2020-07-16

Source: Pegasus Universal Aerospace

View gallery - 5 images
7 comments
7 comments
anthony88
So 6 engines, with 4 in the wings used for landing/take-off and 2 at the back for flight? Why not have redirectable nozzles at the back and just 2 fans in the wings?
buzzclick
That's quite ambitious. No surprise they have Gulf Countries in mind for potential customers. It looks cool enough, but sure doesn't seem like a natural VTOL craft. Taking off vertically is one thing, but what if you get to your destination and have to lower straight down? Do the rear motors turn backwards to act as air brakes? This is a complicated flying machine, and you're right Loz getting accreditation won't be a cake walk.
guzmanchinky
That seems like a hugely complex solution? But then again the F-35 uses a huge lifting fan so maybe it makes sense on some level. I just prefer the idea of the fan/jet that lifts is also the fan/jet that pushes. It's what makes the Osprey so elegant.
Nelson Hyde Chick
Another toy for the fabulously wealthy as the rest of humanity and Earth is left to rot.
sally
I always thought thick wings were inherently aerodynamically inefficient or at least my grandfather who worked in the business in and after the war used to tell me so has there been developments that somehow cheat that issue somehow. Seems too good to be true otherwise.
János Simon
It flies seamlessly in graphics, now I want to see the pudding.
WONKY KLERKY
Q: Wot's the air intake on the head of the fuselage for - APU ?
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Q: Why do some of the vid' shots and still snaps show outlet / no outlet
to rear of fuselage central ?
ie. Shewn as outlet ducts to some shots.
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Q: If these outlets, where shewn, to be thrust outlets proper,
are they to be of variable direction ?
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Q: Is it poss' that there is a hidden agenda/ Plan B to have single large power unit to rear of fuseleage and all fans, including thrust pods, run electrically off it ?
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Q: Why does there have to be incessant blaring 'musak' to over extended vid's flogging the same points to death (or indeed the same over extension done verbally) ?
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Q: Why does my chewing gum - etc ?