US firms plan to build floating landing pads for plane-copter hybrid by 2024

Aiming to give travellers an alternative to airports, two US companies, Transcend Air Corporation and Lily Helipads, have teamed up to offer floating landing pads for Transcend’s vertical take-off air taxis, which are in development.

The idea is to build "barge vertiports" at city waterfronts for Transcend’s Vy 400, a six-seater aircraft whose propellered wings are designed to tilt upward for vertical lift-offs and landings.

The company suggested sites such as Boston Harbour, the Manhattan waterfront, Montreal’s riverfront, and San Francisco Bay would benefit from the floating mini-airports.

Gregory Bruell, the chief executive of Transcend, commented: "By bringing vertipads close to travellers, we don’t increase airport traffic. And by focusing on a safe and environmentally friendly landing and take-off infrastructure, as only Lily can help us provide, we will be creating a more sustainable way to travel."

According to Transcend, the vertipad will have solar-powered LED lights and a heating system to melt snow. The pads will also be crash and hurricane-proof, and they will incorporate a fluid runoff capture system, that keeps liquids such as de-icer and fuel from entering the water.

The Vy 400, which is still in development, will have a tilt-wing/rotor design with fly-by-wire controls and power from a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboshaft. Performance goals include a maximum cruise speed of 352 knots and a range of 390 nautical miles. The company has flown a variety of small-scale prototypes.

The company plans to launch its short-haul air taxi service in 2024.

Image: Transcend’s rendering of its vertiports

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