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New aircraft developed in SA set to revolutionise business travel globally

Pegasus Universal Aerospace founder and CEO Dr Reza Mia describes the development of the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet, which combines and enhances the characteristics of a helicopter with the luxury, range and speed of a business jet.

NOMPU SIZIBA: The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet, which is being developed in South Africa, is moving into its next phase of development. This development seeks to make an aircraft that combines and enhances the characteristics of a helicopter with the luxury range and speed of a business jet. The concept has been patented in South Africa, Europe and the United States. As further work continues to develop the aircraft, Pegasus Universal Aerospace is looking to raise funds with an offer to investors of a profit-sharing arrangement.

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Well, to tell us about the development and the kind of advantages it will bring to business travel and where to next, I’m joined on the line by Dr Reza Mia. He’s the founder and CEO at Pegasus Universal Aerospace. Thanks very much, Dr Mia, for joining us. When was the Pegasus Vertical Business Jet conceptualised, and when did the project-development work actually begin?

Dr REZA MIA: I had the idea in 2012, and started working on it with some engineers pretty much in that year, just to do conceptual design studies. Slowly we’ve progressed with even working on the design and building a scale model.

NOMPU SIZIBA: So what’s so special about this aircraft, and what are some of the key specifications about it?

Dr REZA MIA: The real benefit of this is that it is the only plane that can land anywhere that a helicopter would, including on places where a helicopter couldn’t land – such as tight built-up areas. But then it can fly at four times the range and four times the speed of a helicopter that could take the same amount of passengers.

NOMPU SIZIBA: In terms of size, how big would it be?

Dr REZA MIA: We designed it to be able to fit onto a helipad, so 15 metres X 15 metres.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Ultimately you’re looking to direct this flight service to the business community. What would be the selling points that you would advocate for business travel?

Dr REZA MIA: We would look at about $18 million, because then it’s still cheaper than a comparable helicopter which would cost about $22 million.

NOMPU SIZIBA: You’ve moved to the next phase of development in the aircraft. What is happening now? I see that you’re also looking to raise capital for this next phase. Just expand on both the development and the funding.

Dr REZA MIA: So what you’re doing now is following the success of our one-eighth scale model. We are now flying two quarter-scale models. We’re building them to send them to the UK to fly with our partner companies, PUA and Callen-LenzCallen-Lenz. What we’ll do with those is refine the control systems and automation. Because we’ve been given some support from the UK government, including some financial incentives, we are going to fly those models in the UK. But we’re also building a full-scale hover demonstrator locally in Johannesburg.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Just in terms of access to investors, you are looking to raise funds. If there are any potential investors listening, what is it that you would be offering them in terms of quid pro quo, and also where can they get information about this?

Dr REZA MIA: The best place to get more information is on our website, at www.pegasusua.com, or on our Instagram, which is Pegasus_ua. And we’re selling the shares in the public-development company, which is Pegasus UA Limited. It’s a minimum of four shares for R10 000, with a maximum of whatever you want. It’s basically similar to a seven-year note, where they earn interest that accrues at the seventh year at a fixed rate.

NOMPU SIZIBA: So, assuming all goes well in getting the funding and getting the development done, what are the timelines, and when do you expect the Vertical Business Jet to be flying clients? And are you also yet in a position to give a sense of how much it would cost for corporates to use this service?

Dr REZA MIA: With adequate funding we should be able to fly a manned version within two years. And, following the certification timeline, it should take us about five to six years before we are able to deliver to customers. It will cost about half the cost that it would take to fly a traditional business jet, as it burns a fraction of the fuel because it’s so light and uses a lot of new hybrid technology.

NOMPU SIZIBA: In terms of the capacity that you have behind this project, just tell us about the skills that are there. Obviously you are the founder of this and you conceptualised it – just tell us about who’s behind this.

Dr REZA MIA: We have our own in-house engineers who have been working with local engineering firms, and our new partner company, which is the one I spoke about, which is  Callen-Lenz in the UK. Their expertise is in the control systems and automation side of it, which makes the plane idiot-proof. But also it opens up a lot of avenues for us to be able to do missions that we couldn’t previously have done, because it’s now a plane that anyone with like a private pilot licence would be able to fly, because it takes all the manual labour out of maintaining a stable hover in the airplane.

NOMPU SIZIBA: And then the issue of safety – obviously that’s a big deal.

Dr REZA MIA: That’s where the control system comes in. If the pilot was to let go of the controls, it wouldn’t fall out of the sky. It would just hover. Really, some of the challenges and the attempts in the sixties and seventies to build this, our airplane, were that the pilot would have to manually control the ducts and louvres and fans, whereas in ours the pilot simply has to choose the speed that he wishes to fly. They don’t need to worry about whether they are on the wings, on the fans; the plane does all of that work for them.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Of course, you’re still in the early stages. You’re developing this project, but you must have some ambitions. You’re already working with partners overseas. Where do you see this going? How big would you like it to go?

Dr REZA MIA: We’d obviously like this to be global. We’d like to supply planes to every corner of the globe. And we would manufacture those based on what those requirements would be for each country that we were sending them to.

NOMPU SIZIBA: And just in terms of building and manufacturing – it’s being developed here in South Africa – what potential would there be here in South Africa? What sort of inputs could you get from South Africa once you start building?

Dr REZA MIA: I think what we can get is a very small share of the actual market globally. The main market is the USA, and we’ve been getting promising support from, like I said, the UK government. We’ve had engagements with the FAA (Federal Aircraft Administration). So it’s more likely that we’ll end up basing the operation there if in time our government hasn’t really been involved or interested.

NOMPU SIZIBA: That was Dr Reza Mia. He’s the founder and CEO at Pegasus Universal Aerospace.

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Good luck, hope your licences aren’t awarded like they award drivers licences

If that be so, you’ll be out if the air and out of business in no time, thanks to the ANC

Pilots licenses are well regulated in SA and to the same standard as the US and Europe. The CAA have little to do with the government or ANC.

Small issue here to overcome is the fact that the engines sits in the place where the fuel is in a normal airplane. So where are you going to put the fuel then?

Issue 2: No support from the Government or PIC is because “Thabo” is not involved to loot or supply parts at cost+1000%.

The engines and lift fans are mounted at the back. There is still space for fuel in the wings and fuselage.

I’m no engineer but I watched Avengers, and had some ideas too of a Heli Plane Jet.

This is a very impressive project to see, its time the SA aeronautics industry gets some new life. Has Pegasus approached the government for financing? It would be a shame if they are forced overseas because of lack of funding.

Unfortunately the sa government has not responded to requests for funding unlike foreign governments.

Investors watch reports like this without reading news of whatever subject. Problems of the old way of mass transport in the air had sometimes runway and available space as problem. Never locally. Others, yes, plenty. With the local mini bus transport system competing with anything flying. Left, right, over it, they do it all the time.

I wonder if this “doctor” has ever heard of the Harrier

He might have but interpreted it as another type of “Jump”! 😉

I am not a “doctor” I am a Doctor qualified from WITS in 2006. After completing my MBA and master’s in finance & investment I self taught myself to work with carbon composites to build my own prototypes. The harrier is a single pilot jet that requires Intensive pilot inputs and will set fire to grass and even Melt tar. Ours uses cool air fans, is idiot proof to fly (even you could fly it) and carries passengers.

Just another pie in the sky hair brain idea which simply came to him whilst sitting under the apple tree!!! Can anyone remember the development of SA’s first electric car in Cape Town that folded a few years ago after producing one or two to three prototypes. The developers enjoyed massive government and private sector sponsorship? Most of the money ended up on the Isle of Mann, and the losers are all sitting in SA never to see their money again. Just watch, the PIC and the like will again be conned into parting with the civil servants pension money by just another Dr.!!!

We look forward to proving you wrong. This project has not used a single cent of government money.

Good luck with the enterprise. (I worked on the design of the Westland version of the Sikorsky S55)

End of comments.

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