Callen-Lenz to partner on Pegasus One flight control system

South African firm Pegasus Universal Aerospace has appointed UK engineering consultancy Callen-Lenz to assist with the design and development of the flight-control systems for its Pegasus One vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) business jet.

The partnership comes as the Pretoria-based start-up prepares to open a public funding round to raise capital to build the first full-scale test aircraft.

A bespoke flight-control system is "integral" to supporting aircraft operations in all phases of flight, including transition from VTOL mode and hover to forward flight, says Pegasus. "The merging of these functions, into one unique system, will be a key technology," it says.

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Company founder and chairman Reza Mia describes the VBJ "a light business jet with the take-off and landing performance of a helicopter". The all-composite eight-passenger aircraft has a cranked dihedral wing and an X-tail design. It is projected to have a range of around 2,380nm (4,400km) from a standard runway take-off or 1,150nm in VTOL mode, with a cruise speed of 430kt (800km/h).

Mia says Pegasus has made "great strides" over the past year in developing and testing multiple scale models, and completing "comprehensive studies" into the drivetrain and thrust fan systems to support what he calls a "true hybrid-electric propulsion power source". Pegasus is in ongoing discussions with powerplant manufacturers GE Aviation and Rolls-Royce "to ensure the best performance capability is achieved", he says.

Pegasus will launch a public share sale round on 23 September, which Mia hopes will raise about half of the $2 million needed to build the first full-scale test aircraft. The remainder will be funded by other private sources, including Mia himself.

"This model will be a low-level demonstrator, largely used for hover testing and evaluating the control systems," says Mia.

Assembly will start in early 2020, with a view to beginning testing in the second half of that year, he says. "We are looking to raise a further $400 million over the next five years to complete development." Investment will be sought from a range of sources including angel investors, venture capitalists and government agencies, he adds.