PteroDynamics is setting up its engineering headquarters in Colorado for its Transwing eVTOL aircraft program, having been approved for job growth incentive tax credits from the state. The company has leased a 9,200-square-foot facility in Colorado Springs that will house its research, development, and production work and will be conducting flight tests locally.
After several years working on multiple VTOL aircraft designs, the start-up is now focusing most of its efforts on its 12-foot wingspan model, which is designed to carry up to 15-pound payloads. Having earlier flight-tested four-foot and six-foot demonstrator models as well, it is now close to finalizing the design of the larger unit.
What sets the Transwing family of multirotor VTOLs apart from other models is that its wings are folded back along the fuselage when taking off, landing, and hovering. This means the vehicle can benefit from having longer wings and improved lift-to-drag ratios while supporting operational flexibility on the ground.
With the wings folded, the aircraft requires only about one-third the operating ground footprint of similar-sized models. The company holds three patents and has five more pending for its variable geometry design, which includes articulated wing joints.
PteroDynamics expects the Transwing aircraft to find early adopters among cargo operators and military applications, with passenger roles coming with later iterations of the design. It says that the anticipated payload for its next design is expected to rise to 50 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of around 300 pounds.
Company CEO Matthew Graczyk told FutureFlight that his team is in dialogue with several prospective customers who are providing input that could still be incorporated into the design. One unnamed customer is close to committing to a launch order for a version of the aircraft that could be delivered for use under an experimental license as soon as June 2022.
“Our Transwing design offers key advantages for certain missions where longer ranges, higher payload weight fractions, and faster speeds are needed,” he explained. “We are beginning to talk with prospective customers that have a need for this mission capability.”
Engineering vice president Tim Whitehand explained that PteroDynamics is integrating two flight control architectures, each targeted for a particular mission category. “One will be a relatively low-end approach, using a well-known existing system with an established customer base, and the other will be more sophisticated, for government and higher-end commercial applications,” he said. The technical team is led by CTO and founder Val Petrov, who invented the core Transwing concept.
Initially, the Transwing’s propulsion system will be all-electric, with one motor for each of its propellers. To boost range and endurance, the company is also working on alternative hybrid-electric systems that use an internal combustion engine attached to an electric generator or to directly drive the propellers.
In 2020, PteroDynamics raised an unspecified amount of financial support from institutional investors Kairos Ventures. It expects to seek further backing as it brings the Transwing family to market.