Sabrewing Aircraft Company
Camarillo, California, USA
Sabrewing Aircraft Company, co-founded by CEO Ed de Reyes, is developing several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and are a new generation regional cargo-only (no passengers) hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The company states that the Rhaegal eVTOL aircraft offers high-efficiency, all-weather (including extreme weather conditions), day or night, operations which require no special training to maintain the aircraft. The company is also developing a larger UAV called the Wyvern for which the Draco was a prototype.
The Rhaegal has a main 10 m (33 ft) wing, with four (4) ducted electric motor fans for lift and forward flight, powered by electricity which is created by a generator powered by a Rolls Royce M250-C47E turbine engine. Due to the hybrid-electric design, "it burns a lot less (fuel) than a standard Cessna Caravan airplane," De Reyes said. The concept of the hybrid-electric aircraft is the same as a Toyota Prius. In one video, Ed De Reyes describes the Rhaegal as a quad-plane.
The aircraft has been designed to fly in any weather condition. It can handle heavy ice because the aircraft is capable of heating itself anywhere on the aircraft. When landing or taking off, there are multiple sensors on the aircraft and the aircraft can simply turn itself to the right position to help it land or take off in heavy crosswinds. The company has many innovations on their UAVs and have multiple pending patents. As of March 2019, they have at least 18 pending patents.
It carries a payload of up to 454 kg (1,000 lbs) over a distance of 1,850 km (1,150 m, 1000 nm) with a cruise speed of 333 km/h (207 mph, 180 KTAS), can fly up to 6,705 m (22,000 feet). With a full load the distance is about 579 km (360 miles, 312 nm). The cargo bay is easily accessed through the nose and can carry standard cargo pallets or bulk cargo using a convertible roller floor without using any special loading equipment. Automatic collapsible wings allow for easy ground transport and storage.
The drone will combine data from a camera, a lidar capable of looking 350 meters ahead, a radar, a forward-looking infrared detector (for landing at night), and a send-and-receive GPS navigation system, known as ADS-B. IEEE Spectrum article.
The Rhaegal is now (as of 2019) under construction in Los Angeles (USA) and test flights are scheduled for 2020. Sabrewing has been in talks with the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island in Alaska and will use the island as a flight test site. St. Paul Island, Alaska (USA) is a very remote island with a population of 532 people (2000 U.S. Census), located in the Bering Sea between the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and Russia. It is 301 miles southwest of Nightmute, Alaska.
Having fresh produce and other important cargo is something which doesn't always happen on a regular basis for St. Paul Island, according to one report. The cargo planes in Alaska have an aging fleet and they hope this might be a right solution for reliable, safe and a more economical way to transport goods to cities in Alaska. Saberwing plans sell their aircraft to St. Paul Island, Alaska airlines and Northern Canadian airlines, after FAA approval occurs.
De Reyes says that testing at remote sites is important for several reasons. It will prove the aircraft can not only handle flying over land but can also fly over the ocean. In case of a crash, the aircraft will land in the ocean and won't hurt anyone. In an interview, the President of the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island, Amos Philemonoff, stated that the reliable and safe delivery of air cargo is extremely important, for example, this will allow medication to be on-time as well as blood tests, fresh produce, other critical cargo and other supplies. Using a UAV capable of this, due to having this new technology right now, will help to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
They have flown a 1/8 subscale prototype of the Rhaegal UAV. Sabrewing estimates their aircraft will sell between 2 to 3 million dollars USD. They are also making a larger hybrid-electric eVTOL aircraft called the Wyvern which holds as much cargo as a FedEx truck.
- Cruise speed: 333 km/h 30% / 22,000 ft (207 mph, 180 KTAS)
- Maximum cruise speed: 370 km/h at 22,000 ft (230 mph, 200 KTAS)
- Never exceed speed (VNE) speed: 407 km/h (253 mph, 220 KTAS)
- Best RoC: 1,676 mpm at 10,000 ft (5,500 fpm)
- Takeoff roll, normal payload: 0 m (0 ft)
- Takeoff roll, maximum payload: 450 m (138 ft)
- Wingspan: 10 m (33 ft)
- Length: 8.56 m (28 ft)
- Height: 3.66 m (12 ft)
- Drive train manufacturer: Rolls-Royce
- Turbine model: M250-C47E
- Turbine power, maximum takeoff: (5 min) 523 kW (700 hp)
- Turbine power, maximum continuous: 447 kW (600 hp)
- Cruise fuel consumption: 65 kg (144 pph)
- Fuel type: Jet-A
- Maximum ramp weight: 1364 kg (3000 lbs)
- Maximum gross weight (VTOL): 1001 kg (2200 lbs)
- Maximum gross weight (STOVL): 1364 kg (3000 lbs)
- Standard empty weight (zero fuel): 373 kg (800 lbs)
- Maximum landing weight: 1001 kg (2200 lbs)
- Payload weight (VTOL): 363 kg (800 lbs)
- Payload weight (STOVL): 455 kg (1000 lbs)
- Fuel capacity: 475 l (127 gal)
- Automatic folding wings allow for easy ground transport and storage.
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- Article: Pilotless planes and UAVs - the new normal, The Stat Trade Times, Jul. 2018
- Article: Startup Sabrewing aims at Alaska launch, Alaska Journal of Commerce, Jun. 14, 2018
- Press Release: Sabrewing Aircraft Company, Inc Takes On $2M+ In Drone-Fund-Led Capital Round To Complete Its Production Prototype Aircraft, MarketWatch, Feb. 19, 2019
- Press Release: Sabrewing Aircraft Company receives funding for aircraft prototype, Vertical Magazine, Feb. 21, 2019
- Article: Frontiers 166: Unmanned Aircraft - Going the Distance, KTVA The Voice of Alaska, Mar. 4, 2019
- Article: St. Paul ready for takeoff with Sabrewing partnership, Alaska Journal of Commerce, Mar. 4, 2019
- Video: Frontiers 166: Unmanned Aircraft - Going the Distance, KTVA News, Mar. 5, 2019
- Article: Sabrewing Finds First Customer for Cargo EVTOLs in Alaska, Avionics International, Mar. 21, 2019
- Article: Sabrewing Plans a Cargo Drone That Can Detect and Avoid Obstacles, IEEE Spectrum, Mar. 27, 2019
- Article: Cargo eVTOL Matures, Vertiflite, March/April 2020
- Article: Agile Change in Air Force “Agility Prime” Launch Pays Off, Vertiflite, Aug. 2020