Here’s a sentence we never thought we’d write. A South African company is working on a plane called the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet, which is really an awesome concept. It’s a plane that can take off and land like a Harrier II GR7 — either from a runway or a helipad, if that’s the sort of thing you have at home.
But don’t get too excited about the Pegasus just yet. It’s still being developed by a company called Pegasus Universal Aerospace, headed by Dr. Reza Mia. Local development is continuing with Epsilon Engineering Services, a Centurion-based outfit. The plane’s flight control system is being developed by Callen Lenz in the UK.
Pegasus is a good name for a plane
Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft are growing increasingly popular. Toyota has its sights set on its own version, and several other companies are looking at creating their own versions too. Because runways take up a lot of space and how are we ever going to get flying cars without a compact VTOL market?
But the Pegasus isn’t intended for hopping over city traffic in a little porta-plane. When it’s complete, the seven-seat aircraft will have a 14.8 metre wingspan, a top speed of nearly 800km/h and a range of either 4,400km (runway takeoff) or 2,124km (vertical takeoff). It’ll be a business jet, for business people with stupid amounts of money and a helipad on the roof of their second home in Monaco.
So far, the company has successfully tested a 1/8th scale version of the craft (midway through 2020), with two quarter-size models being tested in May this year. There’s also an unmanned test of a full-scale hover model planned for the end of this year. Takeoff and landing will supposedly be possible on a range of surfaces, from helipads to grass, wooden decks and yachts, thanks to the company’s “cool-air fan technology”. Whatever that is.