Rhaegal: This eco-friendly VTOL is a dead-lift world record holder
In its first hover flight, the California-based Sabrewing Aircraft Company's air cargo drone Rhaegal broke the VTOL "dead-lift" world record.
The pre-production air vehicle, Rhaegal RG-1, broke the previous record for any commercial, uncrewed air vehicle (UAV) by lifting a payload of 829 pounds (374 kg) in vertical takeoff.
The Rhaegal "Alpha" aircraft is the first autonomous freight aircraft in the world that can take off vertically and conventionally. It is made to transport large amounts of cargo anywhere in any weather.
"We are extremely proud to have accomplished this milestone," stated Ed De Reyes, chairman and CEO of Sabrewing. "It's been a long journey to get here, but we were unwilling to compromise safety or design. Our design and tests teams—and our development partners—invested tens of thousands of hours to make this milestone such a history-making success," De Reyes added.
The turbo-electric drivetrain of the Rhaegal aircraft is based on the Ariel 2E turbine-based motor from Safran Helicopter Engines. The four ducted fans on the Ariel are powered by electric motors, powered by an electric generator that produces nearly 1 megawatt of electric energy using 50 percent sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
The aircraft's ducted fans' blades, ducts, and shroud form were greatly improved, allowing each duct to deliver 30 percent more thrust than it initially intended. These upgrades aided the aircraft's capacity to hoist the record-breaking payload. During its initial flight, the pre-production prototype aircraft weighed slightly over 2,700 pounds (1,225 kg). However, it is capable of reaching a maximum gross weight (including payload) of 3,100 pounds (1,406 kg) at heights of up to 22,000 feet (6,700 meters) at a speed of 200 knots (230 mph/370 kph).
Due to its range, fuel efficiency, and ease of maintenance, Rhaegal can help its operators expand their business. Along with carrying big loads, it may also do various other tasks, such as search and rescue operations, battling fires, providing disaster relief, delivering medical supplies (including frozen vaccinations), and even delivering fuel and water.
The Rhaegal has a cargo capacity of approximately 675 cubic feet (19 m3) and can even power refrigerated cargo containers, or "reefers," both on the ground and in the air.
Rhaegal has enough thrust to launch conventionally and maintain the same range, altitude, speed, and efficiency while transporting more than 5,400 lbs (2.4 tons) of cargo.
First, middle, and last mile cargo deliveries are all covered by the Rhaegal RG-1-B "Bravo" production aircraft. It can operate in any airspace, from the most congested city to the most distant area, and lift more than ten times as much freight as its closest competitor.