The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Transcend is developing the Vy 400 family as a fly-by-wire tiltwing turbine-powered aircraft, offering greater range and speed than helicopters. The company says the aircraft will deliver per mile direct operating costs that are one-quarter of those for medium-sized, twin-engine helicopters with comparable cabin volumes and payloads. It is intended for scheduled regional services of up to 450 miles, with operations projected to begin in 2025.

In December 2019, the company was already taking orders for its initial Vy 400R model, and at the end of 2020 it opened the order book for the later Vy 400 model with a projected purchase price of $3.5 million. On December 5, Transcend announced a partnership with aircraft interior designer Huslig Collective to develop luxury interiors for the Vy 400R "Reserved Edition" aircraft.

In early January 2020, Transcend said that it had completed the design for a new propeller, which it says is around 25 percent quieter due to its reduced tip speed. Following simulated performance tests, the company reported speeds of 363 knots (418 mph). 

U.S. air taxi operator Hopscotch Air has expressed an interest in operating the Vy 400 aircraft. In September 2020, company founder Andrew Schmertz told Business Insider he views Transcend's eVTOL concept as a next step from the Cirrus SR-20/22 aircraft it currently operates.

On April 5, 2021, the company announced that it had been awarded a small business technology transfer research and development contract by the U.S. Air Force AFWERX program to develop the Vy 400 for military support missions. According to COO Peter Schmidt, throughout 2020 and into 2021, the company has continued to advance engineering work on the aircraft using a mixture of simulation, analysis tools, and truck-based testing to refine flight control laws, handling qualities, and various systems details. He told FutureFlight that, under the direction of chief engineer Cliff Gunsallus, Transcend remains on track to meet its certification and entry into service target of 2025.

Timeline

Projected

type certification granted

By the end of 2025, Transcend aims to achieve type certification and service entry for both the VIP and scheduled regional service versions of the Vy 400 aircraft.

Projected

test flight

First flight of manned prototype aircraft

Transcend Air said its order book opened at the end of 2020.

Missed Projection

partnership

Transcend Air Corporation intends to partner with an established aircraft manufacturer to build the Vy 400 family of aircraft.

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

As of June 2020, Transcend's management team said that the company intends to complete type certification for its Vy 400R and Vy 400 aircraft in partnership with an established airframe.  To date, the program has operated as a research and development organization that has achieved the preliminary design phases, the building of multiple 1:5 scale flying prototypes, and full-scale simulation. The Vy 400 has passed five external design reviews. Seed funding for the company has so far, reportedly, raised more than $2 million.  

Transcend's choice of a conventional turboprop engine as the sole power source significantly reduces the level of technology risk for the program. Also, Transcend appears to intend for the aircraft to be piloted, initially. That said, the company's flying 1:5 scale prototypes are already autonomous and the certified aircraft will be capable of autonomous operation should customer demand evolve to the point where certifying it for remote and/or unpiloted operations deliver a return on the additional certification costs.

The Vy400's configuration also allows for the turbine propulsion system to be replaced with an electric motor when battery capacity evolves to meet the aircraft's mission demands. 

The program was boosted by a U.S. Air Force research and development contract awarded in April 2021.

Vy 400 Models

Vy 400 Specifications

local vtol Tiltwing

Performance

  • Passenger Capacity
    5
  • Range
    550 mi
  • Cruise Speed
    405 mph
  • Powerplant Type
    propeller
  • Power Source
    jet_fuel
  • Endurance
    84 min
  • Max Altitude
    20,000 ft
  • Takeoff Distance
    n/a
  • Landing Distance
    n/a
  • Empty Weight
    2,190 lb
  • MGTOW
    6,990 lb
  • Payload Weight
    4,800 lb

Dimensions

  • Length
    34 ft
  • Width
    40 ft
  • Height
    9 ft
  • Wingspan
    25 ft

Transcend Air Corporation's Vy 400 regional tiltwing aircraft powered by a single 1,700 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A engine. It will offer a longer range and greater speed than conventional helicopters, as well as significantly lower direct operating costs, according to the company. In January 2020, Transcend said it had completed design of a new propeller. From simulated performance testing, this is expected to deliver cruise speeds of around 418 mph.

According to Transcend, it will also feature geofencing technology and sensors to allow it to safely avoid flight into obstacles and terrain. Further safety protection will be provided by a BRS Aerospace whole airframe parachute. It will also be certified to fly into known icing conditions.

The Vy 400 model will be offered in base airliner trim with so-called  "Light Comfort" seating for four or five passengers and a range of standard paint schemes.