This startup wants to fly you from Manhattan to Boston in 36 minutes for less than the price of a first-class airline ticket — here's how
Aerospace startup Transcend Air is aiming to offer airline-style service between the downtown areas of major cities using vertical take-off and land aircraft. Once in operation, the company is promising 36-minute travel times between helipads New York and Boston for $283 one-way. The company is currently seeking a manufacturer to develop its flagship Vy 400 airliner that will power the service as no planned VTOLs meet the current needs of the company. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
An aerospace startup is aiming to revolutionize travel in the Northeast Corridor between New York and Boston using vertical take-off and land tiltrotor aircraft that can make the downtown-to-downtown journey in less than an hour. Transcend Air was founded in 2017 by Gregory Bruell, the former head of Silicon Valley VTOL design firm Elytron, and Peter Schmidt, the senior technology advisor for air-taxi provider Linear Air. The duo combined their respective expertise to form the new airline startup that aims to bring high-speed intra-city travel to the masses. The idea for Transcend Air initially stemmed from the issue Bruell and thousands of travelers face: the increasing of travel times between nearby major cities. After spending four years at the helm of Elytron designing VTOL aircraft, the company split into two, and Bruell turned his focus to bringing VTOL into an airline setting. Take a closer look at Transcend Air. SEE ALSO: An airline is offering Tony Robbins' Boeing 737 private jet featuring an onboard shower for charter. Take a look inside. DON'T MISS: This luxurious Boeing 777 private jet normally costs $50,000 per hour but is flying medical cargo in the COVID-19 airlift. Take a look inside Crystal Cruises' flying palace. Powering Transcend Air's business model is the Vy 400 airliner VTOL aircraft, a five-seater that is flown by a single-pilot.
The 4,800-pound aircraft is a tiltrotor VTOL, meaning its propellers can change their angle depending on the phase of flight.
The propellers angle up, similar to a helicopter when performing vertical take-off and landings.
Once airborne, the propellers are then tilted forward, as with a standard airplane, to maintain high forward speeds. The Vy 400, in theory, can travel upwards of 400 miles per hour.
Source: Transcend Air The feature allows the VTOL to easily get in and get out of a major city and the congested airspace that typically surrounds it. Many large cities' crowded airspaces and numerous airports make them difficult to navigate for traditional aircraft.
Transcend estimates that the rate of climb for the Vy will be 4,500 feet-per-minute and the rate of descent will be 4,000 feet-per-minute, enabling the VTOL to get to and from its cruise altitude of 16,000 feet in around four minutes.
Source: Transcend Air Unlike traditional airplanes that have to start their descents around 100 miles from the airport when cruising in the upper altitudes, the VTOL can start descending closer to its destination which means lower noise pollution, greater efficiency, and a faster journey.
The VTOL can also use most heliports designed for standard helicopters, making downtown-to-downtown service in major cities a possibility and avoiding congested airports.
While the service will function like an airline, offering scheduled services and selling tickets for under $300 one way on the flagship New York-Boston route, the interior will feature high-end seating.
Bruell told Business Insider in an interview that the cabin would have to be spacious and more comparable to a luxury helicopter than a standard airliner as to attract passengers who may have an initial fear of flying in a small VTOL.
At the very least, there needs to be enough legroom so that two people can sit across from each other without touching.
With only one pilot needed to fly the VTOL, up to five seats can be used for passenger use, including the co-pilot seat. The practice is common with aircraft that only need one pilot.
The Vy is still in the development phase as Transcend hasn't found a manufacturer to build the model yet. The company, so far, has only conducted tests with a scaled prototype and is awaiting either a manufacturer to produce the bird or for a comparable VTOL to be produced.
Transcend has looked at other VTOLs including Joby Aviation's, which the airliner says does not have enough range to do New York-Boston...
And the Leonardo AW609, which Transcend says is too costly to offer the New York-Boston flights for the sub-$300 price range it wants to offer.
Keeping the airfare low enables the co-founders to realize their vision of making VTOL travel accessible to all and not just for the super-wealthy.
For that market, Transcend has envisioned the Reserved Edition, intended for VIP or private operation.
The Reserved Edition is a bit more costly than the airliner at $6 million compared to $3.5 million.
Source: FlightGlobal The Vy 400 would come with additional safety features such as anti-icing systems enabling it to fly into known icing as well as a feature not found on most aircraft: a deployable parachute.
As VTOL inter-city is still a new field, Bruell wants to ensure that any aircraft utilized by his company meets the stringent requirements set including airliner-style payload capabilities.
Until a viable VTOL is manufactured or Transcend secures the $20 million it's seeking to develop the aircraft, however, there's no set timeline on when the company's VTOLs will be traversing the skies between New York and Boston or one of the 46 city pairs within the range of the aircraft.