Paragon VTOL Aerospace
Brownsville, Texas, USA
Founded in 2018 by Dwight Smith, Paragon VTOL Aerospace is creating a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) passenger aircraft manufacturing company for commercial use for Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Smith has self-funded the company from the founding of the company. Since 2018, the company has been working privately but in June 2021, has finally decided become public with their business plans. At a June 2021 press conference, he reported the company has a large capital commitment that is almost 1 billion USD. The company plans on hiring between 30 to 50 people by the end of 2021.
The company was originally based in California (USA) but in 2021, the company is moving to Brownsville, Texas (USA). The company choose Brownsville for several reasons including being close to the SpaceX launch facility, being near the Eastern tip of the Mexican border and its geography. According to the company, the swamp lands and ocean provide safe areas to make test flights for their aircraft.
Smith has the philosophy of crawl, walk and run, in terms of how they will evolve their company from to passenger VTOL aircraft. The company plans on starting with drone deliveries of 10 lb or less, then move on to heavy air cargo delivery and finally providing VTOL passenger service. The company wants to test the technology starting with small drones and proving the technology is reliable and working correctly, and then transitioning to the testing, then producing the larger VTOL aircraft.
The newly designed hybrid-electric Soar VTOL winged modern aircraft that is piloted, has a range of 300-900 miles (483-1,448 km), depending upon the number of people traveling inside the aircraft. The cabin has a large clear canopy (like a fighter jet canopy) and has been projected to carry up to as many as nine passengers.
The aircraft has eight main large ducted fans, six of these are embedded in the wings for VTOL flight and the two rear ducted fans tilt for VTOL and forward flight. The main wing has grand total of 24 micro-ducted fans to keep noise to a minimum when taking off and landing. The aircraft is slated to have a hydrogen-fueled combustion engine to produce electricity for the electric motors and all other electrical systems in the aircraft. The aircraft will also have batteries as part of its power source. The aircraft has retractable wheeled landing gear.
In addition to making passenger VTOL aircraft, the company plans on building the vertiports (vertical airport) in Texas and then expanding to other states in the future. The purpose of building these aircraft are to save travel time between cities and airports, allowing passengers to have the comfort of private flights and reducing the amount of time it takes to travel between two points.
The company has stated that not only will they provide high-tech jobs for people in Brownsville, his company and other VTOL manufactures will increase more jobs in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to being charged with having to keep lower airspace safe above every city and in between, in the USA.
The company noted that the final version of the Soar aircraft could look different than its current design, based on FAA certification regulations and other technical reasons.
Smith is pushing to have the Soar VTOL aircraft certified by the end of 2021, with its first full scale prototype flight in 2022. In addition, the company is committing to manufacture at least 50 of their VTOL aircraft by 2025.
- Aircraft type: Hybrid-electric VTOL passenger aircraft
- Piloting: 1 pilot
- Capacity: Up to 9 passengers
- Cruise speed: Unknown
- Range: 300-900 miles (483-1,448 km) depending upon the number of passengers. With 5 passengers over 500 m (804 km). With 4 passengers, 900 m (1,448 km).
- Flight Time: Unknown
- Cruise altitude: Unknown
- Propellers: 8 large ducted fans, 24 micro-ducted in-wing fans (micro-ducted fans to keep noise down during takeoff and landing)
- Electric Motors: 32 electric motors, plus motors for landing gear
- Power source: Hybrid-electric (hydrogen-fueled combustion engine), plus batteries
- Fuselage: Sustainable composite material able to deflect ice
- Windows: Canopy over cockpit and passenger area
- Wings: 1 mid-wing
- Tail: T-tail
- Landing gear: Retractable quadricycle wheeled landing gear
- Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft.
- Paragon VTOL Aerospace website
- Article: VTOL founder talks jobs; Firm to start with light drone delivery, My RGV News, June 26, 2021
- Podcast: Why Paragon VTOL Aerospace chose Brownsville, Rio Grande Guardian, July 5, 2021
- Article: Paragon VTOL Aerospace To Relocate to Brownsville, Texas, The city of Brownsville, June 23, 2021
- Video: Paragon Press Conference 06/17/21, City of Brownsville, Texas, June 18, 2021
- Video: Aerospace company setting up new shop in Brownsville, KRGV, Jun 20, 2021
- Video: Paragon VTOL Aerospace, City of Brownsville, Texas, June 21, 2021
- Article: Paragon Continues To Be A Committed Pioneer For Urban Air Taxi Movement In Brownsville, Cision PR Newswire, Aug. 30, 2021
- Article: Paragon Aerospace reboots its hydrogen VTOL project in Texas, Future Flight, Sept. 8, 2021
- Article: Paragon looks to hydrogen engines for its ultra-long-range Soar eVTOL, New Atlas, Sept. 12, 2021