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PteroDynamics Transwing

Transwing
PteroDynamics Inc.
Moorpark, California, USA
www.pterodynamics.com

PteroDynamics was founded in 2017 by its CEO, Dr. Val Petrov. The company says on their website, "Our business model includes licensing the Transwing design to other companies that are passionate about the potential of safe, reliable and ubiquitous distance VTOL applications." Petrov created the Transwing concept in 2016 and the aircraft is applicable to crewed and uncrewed electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flight for advanced air mobility (AAM). Subscale models have been flight tested from vertical takeoff through transition and to vertical landings. The company's aircraft are protected by four issued patents and have 14 pending patents in the U.S. and ten international jurisdictions.

On Feb. 28, 2023, PteroDynamics, announced the completion of a $7.5 million seed round by Kairos Ventures, Lavrock Ventures and CS Venture Opportunities Fund. The company plans to use the money to develop larger Transwing models, hire engineers and gain additional contracts. The company is planning on designing models for multiple mission types both military and civilian.

The PteroDynamics passenger concept design is a long range VTOL aircraft that can be powered by all batteries or will have the option to be powered by a hybrid-electric power source. The company is also developing air cargo aircraft. The aircraft has what is called a Transwing® which is a wing that folds during flight allowing the aircraft to transition between vertical and fixed-wing flight. According to the company, the advantage of this design allows the long range aircraft with wings to land in small confined areas using only one third the space of a fixed-winged VTOL aircraft. The small space requirements for this long range aircraft is a strong selling point, according to the company.

The aircraft is scalable and the passenger and cargo capacity can vary. Depending upon the size of the aircraft model, the empty weight of the aircraft can be between 3 lb (1.36 kg) to 75,000 lb (34,019 kg). The wings are scalable from 4 ft (1.21 m) to 34 ft (10.36 m). The aircraft can have between four to six propellers with the same number of electric motors. The landing gear is retractable wheeled landing gear which are located on the ends of the propeller nacelles.

From their website (in italics):

Our patented aircraft design has the highest performance metrics of any VTOL aircraft. Given any aircraft footprint size and payload requirements, Transwing aircraft will fly several times as far as any VTOL competitor.

The secret is that our patented Transwing aircraft design is a pure rotor wing when taking off and landing and transitions by folding and rotating its wings into a fixed wing aircraft for forward flight. A rotor wing configuration is the optimal design for stable takeoff, landing and hover, and a fixed wing configuration is the optimal design for flying long distances very fast carrying a heavy payload using the least amount of energy possible. Transwing is the only aircraft design that transitions between these two optimal configurations.

The Transwing will have a profound and positive impact on the entire aviation industry and will make possible whole industry segments, including drone delivery, air taxis and personal flying transport.

The Transwing design provides many key advantages:

  • Most importantly, they are as stable and efficient during takeoff, landing and hover as a helicopter or multicopter.
  • Yet as efficient for horizontal flight as any fixed wing aircraft, permitting significantly higher speeds, flight efficiency and lift-to-drag ratios than a helicopter or multicopter. Transwing aircrafts can easily have lift-to-drag ratios greater than 20 because they have the advantage of having their wings folded back when taking off and landing and while on the ground, so the wings can be significantly longer than other VTOL aircraft designs.
  • The in-flight transition of the folding wings enabled by our proprietary wing joint is extremely rapid and seamless due to uniquely benign aerodynamics of all the intermediate configurations during transition. The large dihedral and swept back angle of the wings during transition results in an angle of attack that never exceeds 20 degrees while flying horizontally, which reduces buffeting and flow separation, making the transitions smooth and natural.
  • Because of their folded wing configuration, Transwing aircraft designs are extremely compact for ground storage and during takeoff, landing and hover, with a full-scale four-passenger vehicle being just 18 feet wide by 23 feet long.
  • Payload capacities can be as much as 40% or even more of maximum takeoff weight. Quadcopters are famous for their ability to lift multiples of their own weight. Because Transwing aircrafts fold to a fully functioning quadcopter (or other multicopter) configuration for takeoff and landing, its payload can be as high as that of any other quadcopter, minus the weight of its wings and empennage.
  • Transwing aircrafts can use either wet fuel or distributed electric propulsion, which offers redundancies, is very reliable, much more quiet and efficient than internal combustion engines and are less expensive to build, maintain and operate, not to mention that they are much better for the environment with zero emission.
  • Transwing aircraft have the same cruise and maximum speed profiles as conventional fixed-wing aircraft.
  • It's possible to have Transwing configurations where all the motors are used for both take off and landing as well as forward flight so that there is no superfluous motor in either configuration causing unnecessary weight or drag.
  • Fuselage always stays parallel to the ground. This is critical when carrying people and other payloads that should not be shifted significantly during flight as well as for vehicles whose primary missions include carrying first-person-view (FPV) and other cameras and sensors that must be kept in a fixed orientation throughout the flight profile, from takeoff through cruise to landing, including transitioning to hover in mid-flight if that is part of the mission requirement (e.g., for conducting inspections where the aircraft must convert to hover for an extended inspection before transitioning back to forward flight to the next inspection location).
  • Vehicles can range in size from <5 lbs to 75,000 lbs.
  • Our patented design is truly a breakthrough for distance VTOL aircraft. As an example, our all-electric VTOL aircraft designed to carry a 5 lb payload (Parus5c™) is 18% smaller, flies more than 6x as long (100 minutes vs 13 minutes) and more than 12x as far (80 miles vs 6 miles) than the otherwise most performant VTOL aircraft of a similar size and payload capacity, the DJI Matrice 200 with their highest capacity TB50 battery pack.

According to their website (as of this web page up-date in April 2019), PteroDynamics has said they have validated their claims in the real world because they have a working prototype with a four-foot wingspan (Parus4) that has flown 100+ times. They have also hovered the first of the two Parus12 aircraft with 12-foot wingspans, which are 1/4 scale of the 2-passenger vehicle. They state they will soon have their Parus12 aircraft in full flight, complete with in-flight wing transitions.

The US Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) announced in September 2022, that it had taken delivery of its first PteroDynamics XP-4 Transwing, an eVTOL uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) with folding wings. NAWCAD awarded PteroDynamics a contract in August 2021 to supply Transwing drones for the Blue Water Maritime Logistics UAS (BWUAS) program (see “Electric VTOL News,” Vertiflite, Nov/Dec 2021). Launched in 2018, the Navy’s BWUAS program aims to evaluate the possibility of using uncrewed aircraft for logistical replenishment missions, with an eye towards potentially replacing the crewed helicopters that currently conduct these operations. Over the coming months, the Rapid Prototyping, Experimentation and Demonstration team at NAWCAD will conduct a series of tests with the Transwing drones to examine their suitability for ship-to-shore and shore-to-ship operations.

The company foresees its aircraft to be used for passenger and air cargo for commercial and military purposes, including air taxi service, agriculture, aerial inspections, medevac use and by other government agencies.

Specifications:

  • Aircraft type: Long range hybrid-electric VTOL or eVTOL passenger concept design aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Capacity: The aircraft is scalable and passenger capacity can vary
  • Empty weight: Scalable weighing between 3 lb (1.36 kg) to 75,000 lb (34,019 kg)
  • Propellers: 4 or 6 propellers
  • Electric motors: 4 or 6 electric motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Fuselage: Carbon fiber composite
  • Window: Canopy over cockpit
  • Wings: Scalable from 4 ft (1.21 m) to 34 ft (10.36 m)
  • Tail: 1 inverted angled vertical stabilizer
  • Landing gear: Retractable wheeled landing gear (located on the ends of the propeller nacelles)
  • 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. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft.

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