This startup wants to fly you from Manhattan to Boston in 36 minutes for less than the price of a first-class airline ticket — here’s how

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 VTOL. Transcend Air
  • Aerospace startup Transcend Air is aiming to offer airline-style service between the downtown areas of major cities using vertical take-off and land aircraft.
  • Once in operation, the company is promising 36-minute travel times between helipads New York and Boston for $US283 one-way.
  • The company is currently seeking a manufacturer to develop its flagship Vy 400 airliner that will power the service as no planned VTOLs meet the current needs of the company.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An aerospace startup is aiming to revolutionise travel in the Northeast Corridor between New York and Boston using vertical take-off and land tiltrotor aircraft that can make the downtown-to-downtown journey in less than an hour.

Transcend Air was founded in 2017 by Gregory Bruell, the former head of Silicon Valley VTOL design firm Elytron, and Peter Schmidt, the senior technology advisor for air-taxi provider Linear Air. The duo combined their respective expertise to form the new airline startup that aims to bring high-speed intra-city travel to the masses.

The idea for Transcend Air initially stemmed from the issue Bruell and thousands of travellers face: the increasing of travel times between nearby major cities. After spending four years at the helm of Elytron designing VTOL aircraft, the company split into two, and Bruell turned his focus to bringing VTOL into an airline setting.

Take a closer look at Transcend Air.


Powering Transcend Air’s business model is the Vy 400 airliner VTOL aircraft, a five-seater that is flown by a single-pilot.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

The 4,800-pound aircraft is a tiltrotor VTOL, meaning its propellers can change their angle depending on the phase of flight.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

The propellers angle up, similar to a helicopter when performing vertical take-off and landings.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

Once airborne, the propellers are then tilted forward, as with a standard aeroplane, to maintain high forward speeds. The Vy 400, in theory, can travel upwards of 400 miles per hour.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

Source: Transcend Air


The feature allows the VTOL to easily get in and get out of a major city and the congested airspace that typically surrounds it. Many large cities’ crowded airspaces and numerous airports make them difficult to navigate for traditional aircraft.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

Transcend estimates that the rate of climb for the Vy will be 4,500 feet-per-minute and the rate of descent will be 4,000 feet-per-minute, enabling the VTOL to get to and from its cruise altitude of 16,000 feet in around four minutes.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 VTOL.

Source: Transcend Air


Unlike traditional aeroplanes that have to start their descents around 100 miles from the airport when cruising in the upper altitudes, the VTOL can start descending closer to its destination which means lower noise pollution, greater efficiency, and a faster journey.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

The VTOL can also use most heliports designed for standard helicopters, making downtown-to-downtown service in major cities a possibility and avoiding congested airports.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

While the service will function like an airline, offering scheduled services and selling tickets for under $US300 one way on the flagship New York-Boston route, the interior will feature high-end seating.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

Bruell told Business Insider in an interview that the cabin would have to be spacious and more comparable to a luxury helicopter than a standard airliner as to attract passengers who may have an initial fear of flying in a small VTOL.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

At the very least, there needs to be enough legroom so that two people can sit across from each other without touching.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

With only one pilot needed to fly the VTOL, up to five seats can be used for passenger use, including the co-pilot seat. The practice is common with aircraft that only need one pilot.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

The Vy is still in the development phase as Transcend hasn’t found a manufacturer to build the model yet. The company, so far, has only conducted tests with a scaled prototype and is awaiting either a manufacturer to produce the bird or for a comparable VTOL to be produced.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL prototype.

Transcend has looked at other VTOLs including Joby Aviation’s, which the airliner says does not have enough range to do New York-Boston…

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A Joby Aviation VTOL.

And the Leonardo AW609, which Transcend says is too costly to offer the New York-Boston flights for the sub-$US300 price range it wants to offer.

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A Leonardo AW609 tiltrotor.

Keeping the airfare low enables the co-founders to realise their vision of making VTOL travel accessible to all and not just for the super-wealthy.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 airliner VTOL.

For that market, Transcend has envisioned the Reserved Edition, intended for VIP or private operation.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 Reserved Edition VTOL.

The Reserved Edition is a bit more costly than the airliner at $US6 million compared to $US3.5 million.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 Reserved Edition VTOL.

Source: FlightGlobal


The Vy 400 would come with additional safety features such as anti-icing systems enabling it to fly into known icing as well as a feature not found on most aircraft: a deployable parachute.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 Reserved Edition VTOL.

As VTOL inter-city is still a new field, Bruell wants to ensure that any aircraft utilised by his company meets the stringent requirements set including airliner-style payload capabilities.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 Reserved Edition VTOL.

Until a viable VTOL is manufactured or Transcend secures the $US20 million it’s seeking to develop the aircraft, however, there’s no set timeline on when the company’s VTOLs will be traversing the skies between New York and Boston or one of the 46 city pairs within the range of the aircraft.

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A Transcend Air Vy 400 Reserved Edition VTOL.

Source: FlightGlobal