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