The Transcend Air Corporation has announced the development of the Vy, a tilt-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) six-seater aircraft designed to ferry people in and out of cities. Simultaneously, the company has said it will launch an air taxi-style commuter service to operate the aircraft, which it hopes to have up in the air in 2024.

The Vy pivots from an aircraft capable of helicopter-style take off and landing (albeit with two main overhead rotors rather than one) to one capable of cruising at 405 mph (652 km/h) by virtue of its tilt-wing design. Essentially, by rotating its wings those take off and landing rotors become outsized propellers in "airplane mode."

The company claims this is three times faster than traditional helicopters, though that's only really true if you pick a traditional helicopter of one third the speed. But, multiples aside, 405 mph is much faster than a helicopter. Let's just move on.

The Vy, or the Vy 400 to give its full name, will (should it come to fruition) use fly-by-wire – a navigation system that eschews manual controls in favor of electronic and potentially automated ones. It will also feature a carbon fiber design. Its low weight will apparently afford the use of a whole-aircraft parachute – so no need to bail out in the event of an emergency, unless you're trying to dodge your fare. (Here's a video of a whole-aircraft parachute in action.)

Just how likely this all is to happen remains to be seen. The Transcend Air Corporation has apparently spun out of the now "wound down" Elytron Aircraft, responsible for the similar 2S tilt-rotor concept we saw back in 2015. So far as we can tell, the only instance of one of these taking to the air was accidental.

Confusingly, Elytron has also forked into the VTOL Aerospace company, which has achieved flight with its CVC 96 prototype, albeit at downsized UAV scale. Operating in the VTOL space has its ups and downs, apparently.

The Transcend Air website may have the most audacious button on the entire web. It says "Buy Ticket," and takes you a little bit further down the website to a section that doesn't let you buy a ticket. It does, however, list prices and flight times:

  • New York to Boston, US$283 (36 minutes)
  • Los Angeles to San Francisco $315 (55 minutes)
  • Montreal to Toronto $325 (60 minutes)

The trips will use existing helipads, so at least there are no major infrastructure impediments to the company's plans.

And, if you're feeling brazen, from 2020 you'll be able to order your own Vy for a mere $3.5 million. Whether the company will meet its targets remains to be seen, but you have to admire the pluck.

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