The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Paragon VTOL Aerospace launched the T21 Raptor hybrid aircraft program in 2018. In March 2020, the company indicated that it intends to achieve a first flight by the end of the year and achieve type certification by the end of 2021. It says that it has been conducting "virtual" simulated testing while building its first prototype. Before the prototype T21 flies, it intends to conduct further tethered flights using various unspecified aircraft to evaluate the technology behind the T21. The company says that it has assembled a fleet of small drones and various larger eVTOL designs that it has acquired from other start-up ventures. It intends to conduct initial testing in a warehouse in California. In March 2020, it reported that a full-scale prototype of the T21 is under construction

The hybrid-electric Raptor is an optionally piloted vehicle intended for a variety of purposes, including cargo transportation, air taxi services, agricultural support, law enforcement, and military missions.

Siemens is providing software to help Paragon fast-track the development of the technology behind the T21 Raptor, in areas such as conducting stress tests and assessing heat variances. The University of Florida is working with the company to advance the use of plasma in reducing noise generated by drag. Paragon holds five patents associated with plasma technology. Robert Frederick, founder of logistics group Sirqul and a co-founder of Amazon Web Services, is involved in developing software for Paragon's planned unmanned traffic management (UTM) system to support eVTOL aircraft operations. Paragon founder Dwight Smith told FutureFlight that the company intends to offer a "virtual highway platform" to manage traffic flow for autonomous aircraft and that this technology will be made available to other aircraft manufacturers and operators. He said that this UTM system will incorporate technology already used in autonomous cars. 

Paragon says it has had discussions with both Safran and Rolls-Royce and expects one of them to provide the engine for the T21's hybrid powerplant. The company intends to manufacture the aircraft itself, but says it is also in talks with a leading automobile manufacturer about possible involvement in the program. It has secured a 12,000-acre site in Jamaica that will be used for production facilities. Smith predicted that Paragon will employ as many as 2,000 people in Jamaica by the end of 2021 as the program transitions from development to operations. Initially, he expects the aircraft to be used for cargo-carrying roles, before passenger flights get underway.

Timeline

type certification granted

Paragon VTOL Aerospace says that it will complete type certification of the T21 Raptor eVTOL aircraft by the end of 2021.

Projected

test flight

The first test flight of a full-size prototype will be achieved by the end of 2020, according to Paragon VTOL Aerospace.

Outlook

Our objective assessment of this program’s probable success.

FutureFlight assesses the probability of success for a new aircraft program by considering the following criteria:

  • Total investment funds available in proportion to the anticipated cost of getting an aircraft certified and in service
  • A company’s in-house capability (in terms of numbers of engineers, technical staff, and customer support teams)
  • The past experience of the company and its senior leadership in developing aircraft
  • The caliber and past experience of key program partners
  • Whether key aircraft systems have been selected and are available for use
  • Whether the preliminary design review has been completed
  • Whether the design for the full-scale prototype has been completed
  • Whether the type certification process has been formally initiated with an appropriate regulator
  • Whether the company has achieved a first flight with a full-scale prototype
  • The number of hours logged in a flight test program
  • Whether type certification has been achieved
  • The number of orders and commitment received for the aircraft
  • Whether the company has adequate facilities to begin series production of the aircraft
Our Methodology

The T21 Raptor is the first aircraft component in a wider plan that Paragon VTOL Aerospace has to develop urban air mobility infrastructure and services in the Caribbean region, with its 45 million population. The program is entirely funded by company founder Dwight Smith, who appears to have amassed a significant fortune in the oil industry. Partnerships with Siemens, the University of Florida, Amazon Web Services and the Jamaican government would appear to lend credibility to the plan. However, the projected timeline leading to type certification by the end of 2021 seems extremely ambitious, given the limited progress that appears to have been achieved so far. 

The company holds five patents and has applied for more, covering the use of plasma for noise and vibration suppression as well as for propulsion. However, other technical specifications for this ducted-fan design are not very well defined yet—or at least, are not publicly confirmed. 

T21 Raptor Models

T21 Raptor Specifications

autonomous vtol Lift + Cruise

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    5
  • Range
    n/a
  • Cruise Speed
    90 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    ducted fan
  • Power Source
    hybrid_fe
  • Endurance
    n/a
  • Max Altitude
    n/a
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    n/a
  • MGTOW
    n/a
  • Payload Weight
    1,200 lb

Dimensions

  • Length
    24 ft
  • Width
    n/a
  • Height
    6 ft
  • Wingspan
    32 ft

The T21 Raptor a hybrid-electric eVTOL aircraft with a ducted fan propulsion system. It is intended for a variety of applications and promises a range of up to 90 miles. 

Key Personnel

Dwight Smith
Dwight Smith

Founder