Transcend Switches To Larger Tiltwing VTOL

Transcend Air Vy 421

Transcend’s Vy 421 is a larger, twin-turbine version of the tiltwing design.

Credit: Transcend Air

U.S. startup Transcend Air has redesigned its turbine-powered tiltwing vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) aircraft and is working to raise the funding required to build a proof-of-concept vehicle.

The original Vy 400 was to be powered by a single 2,500-shp GE Aerospace CT7-8 turboshaft and designed to carry a pilot and up to five passengers 450 mi. at 405 mph. The larger Vy 421 has twin CT7-8s and has been redesigned to carry seven passengers or 3,500 lb. of cargo 1,000 mi. at 486 mph.

“We have already begun work on the full-scale Vy 421 proof-of-concept [Vy POC]. The designs for both the Vy POC and the certification-track Vy 421 have been advanced into the preliminary design stage,” says Transcend’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Peter Schmidt

“The detailed Vy POC development plan is complete. We have met with the FAA Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation and are in process adding the means of compliance to our draft of our Part 21.17(b) certification basis,” he says. “The certification timeframe now pencils out to 2028.”

Boston-based Transcend plans to certify the Vy 421 under the same special category for powered-lift aircraft as an eVTOL aircraft, but says its turbine-powered design avoids some of the limitations that could be imposed on eVTOLs under the FAA’s proposed Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) operating and pilot certification rules for powered-lift aircraft.

“I am glad to finally take the wraps off the Vy 421. It is bigger, faster and roomier and can handle eight 200-lb. adults with full-size luggage for seven passengers in business-class configuration, yet continues our strategic approach to certification of using all off-the-shelf technology,” says Schmidt. ”It also complies with the powered-lift SFAR in ways that none of the eVTOLs do, which is already a vindication of that strategy.

“We are currently raising a round to fund the next phase of the Vy POC build,” he says. “We are in discussions with investors interested in both our military and civil prospects. The SFAR’s challenge to the eVTOL players has increased investor interest in our approach.”

Transcend previously was funded by the U.S. Air Force’s
AFWerx innovation unit to study the Vy 400 and larger derivatives for missions including personnel recovery.

“We see a military application for the Vy 400, so while it is no longer our go-to-market aircraft, it is neither gone nor forgotten,” Schmidt says.

Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.