Founded in 2017, Phractyl is a electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) startup company, based in South Africa, with the goal to provide clean Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and air cargo service for the African continent. The company name is their own acronym for PHRontier for Agile Complex Technology sYstem evoLution. The company's mathematical namesake, the fractal, is their philosophy to employ a dynamic systems thinking approach to problem solving clean air travel for everyone in Africa.
The company notes that Africa has critical transportation problems due to the lack of good roads and bridges throughout the continent. The company will combine modern manufacturing techniques with smart sustainable materials and use a modular design to ensure the success of their line of eVTOL production aircraft.
Phractyl's first eVTOL concept design is named the Macrobat and is a one passenger all-electric aircraft for a personal air vehicle (PAV). The aircraft is being planned to have the option of being piloted, remotely controlled or have autonomous flight capability. The aircraft has a cruise speed of 180 km/h (112 mph), a 150 km (93 mile) range and has a maximum payload of 150 kg (330 lb).
The aircraft has two propellers mounted on a tilting M-wing, with a canopy over the cockpit, swept-back rear horizontal stabilizers with bird-like landing gear. At the end of each leg of the landing gear are two continuous track systems with trends.
The aircraft has been designed to work well in environments with a lack of infrastructure, diverse geography and biomes found throughout Africa. The company predicts the Macrobat eVTOL aircraft will be highly proficient at taking off, landing and flying over arid deserts, grassy savannas, several types of forests, multiple types of rainforests, mountainous regions and more.
Phractyl calls their aircraft an electric near-vertical takeoff and landing (eNVTOL) aircraft because it takes off at a slight angle and not perfectly straight up. The aircraft's design was inspired by birds. The aircraft can squat back, tilt its wings, tilt its fuselage and take off. When in flight, the fuselage will level out, fly like a small plane and the landing legs will retract to minimize drag during forward flight. When landing, its trends will help to travel short distances over uneven or muddy terrain.
Phractyl has plans for an eVTOL ecosystem:
- Battery Farms: Battery swapping and recharging facilities
- Crowd-Sourced Weather Monitoring: Accurate real-time weather information uploaded to a flight management database by community participants. Includes a rewards program to incentivize participation.
- Graduate Training Programs: Providing post-graduate topics in the engineering disciplines and training programs for graduates entering the industry
- Supporting Local Businesses: Encouraging job creation in the aerospace industry, especially in the area of advanced manufacturing
- Knowledge Sharing: Online tutorials and courses detailing the development of the Macrobat personal air vehicle, for the benefit of the entire aerospace industry
The company foresees the use of its aircraft for personal air travel, air taxi service, emergency medical supply transportation, critical personnel transportation, recreational air travel, air cargo, infrastructure inspection, crop spraying and more.
The concept design of the Macrobat is for starters. Phractyl has already made plans to use more propellers in a production aircraft for redundancy, stronger VTOL capability and a more useful forward flight speed. In addition, the company has stated its aircraft is scalable and in the future, will make a larger eVTOL aircraft for air taxi service. As of December 2021, no mention has been made when prototype aircraft or serial production is expected to occur.
- Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger or cargo aircraft concept design
- Piloting: Piloted, remote-controlled or autonomous
- Capacity: 1 passenger with luggage
- Cruise speed: 180 km/h (112 mph)
- Range: 150 km (93 mile)
- Maximum payload: 150 kg (330 lb)
- Propellers: 2 propellers
- Electric Motors: 2 electric motors
- Power source: Battery packs
- Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
- Windows: Canopy over cockpit
- Wings: One tilting M-wing
- Tail: Swept-back horizontal stabilizer
- Landing gear: Bird-like landing gear (the landing legs are like a bird's leg or hindlimbs) with a continuous track system (the bottom portion of each leg has treads like a tank or a bulldozer). There are four sets of track system treads on the landing legs.
- Phractyl website
- Phractyl Facebook
- Phractyl Twitter
- Phractyl YouTube Channel
- Phractyl Instagram
- Video: Africa's Flying Car, Phractyl, Nov. 15, 2021
- Article: It's a bird... and a plane? Africa's own bizarre "NVTOL" birdoplane, New Atlas, Dec. 10, 2021
- Article: The Macrobat: A bird or a plane?, Designboom, Dec. 10, 2021
- Article: In South Africa, they came up with the Macrobat air taxi, the design of which is similar to a bird – it has legs instead of wheels, Aroged, Dec. 10, 2021