The first business jet with vertical take-off and landing capabilities is likely to be built in South Africa.
The development of the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet is being made possible after the Pretoria based South African firm Pegasus Universal Aerospace (PUA) signed a memorandum of understanding in September with the UK-based technical aviation consultancy, Callen-Lenz Group. Callen-Lenz will assist PUA with the design and development of the Pegasus One’s flight control systems.
The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet
Once completed, the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet will be the first aircraft to provide business jet performance coupled with the convenience offered by a helicopter, which will include the ability to land on rooftops.
PUA founder and chairperson, well-known South African general practitioner specialising in aesthetic medicine, Dr Reza Mia, says the company is currently raising around half of the $2 million needed to build the first full-scale test aircraft through a public share sale. The remainder of the money for the prototype will be funded by private sources, including Mia himself.
“This model will be a low-level demonstrator, largely used for hover testing and evaluating the control systems.” He hopes that the test craft can be assembled in early 2020 in South Africa. Apart from working with the experts from Callen-Lenz in the UK, the rest of the development engineers are all South African. A further $400 million will be needed over the next five years to complete development.
Mia said he wanted to develop an aircraft that would be totally unique. With a top speed of 800km/h, the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet will be able to fly up to four times faster than a helicopter with the convenience of hovering, taking off and landing like a helicopter.
UK based Callen-Lenz Group said that under the terms of the memorandum of understanding with PUA, their development team will work closely with the Pegasus executive team, engineers and newly-appointed chief pilot, Captain Andrew Dietrich.
Vertical take-of and landing capabilities, explained
Vertical take-of and landing capabilities are not entirely unique to fixed wing aircraft. As early as the 1950s, particularly following the Korean War, aircraft companies in both Europe and America investigated the viability of vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which would eliminate the requirement for vulnerable runways. The most successful of these technological investigations was the development of the British Harrier ‘Jump Jet’, which used rotating jet nozzles to hover, take-off and land.
It has been reported that the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet will achieve vertical take-off and landing by in-wing lift fans and rear thrust fans, powered by two GE Aviation CT7-8 turboshaft engines. Integrated gearboxes to angle the thrust will be managed by multiple computer systems; the so-called ‘fly by wire’ flight control systems which use computers to process the flight control inputs made by pilots.
PUA says in a statement the Pegasus will be used by governments, corporates, for medical evacuations, search and rescue, offshore operations, general charter, to land on super yachts and ocean going vessels.
“Its state of the art performance is unmatched by helicopters, piston engine planes and any of the tilt-rotor vertical take-of and landing aircraft currently on the market, with a range of 4000km from runway take-off (or 2700km from a vertical take-off).”
Capable of carrying eight passengers with only one pilot, the Pegasus VBJ® has already had its South African Patents granted with patents pending in the USA and EU.