Sabrewing Aircraft plans to perform the first flight of its Rhaegal unmanned heavy-lift, long-range half-scale prototype aircraft by the end of March, says Ed De Reyes, Sabrewing chairman and CEO, according to a recent publication by Janes.
This half-scale prototype has an 8.5 m wingspan, and will be roughly half the weight of the full-size production aircraft. The full-scale Rhaegal that will go into production will have a wingspan of 17 m, said De Reyes, adding that the company started with the half-scale prototype to make it easier to operate, and for it to perform avionics and autopilot development.
The full-scale Rhaegal will feature a turbo-electric powertrain that will be fuel-efficient and not require a charging station. Sabrewing is installing a Safran Arriel 2D turboshaft engine that it received for free from Safran into the half-scale prototype for use in its upcoming flight test. The Arriel 2D, which powers the Airbus H125 and H130 single engine commercial helicopters, features a take-off power of 952 shaft horsepower (shp), and a cruise power of 856 shp.
De Reyes said Sabrewing just finished redesigning the half-scale prototype’s gearbox for use with the Arriel 2D as it would provide about 3x the shaft horsepower that would have been provided by another engine the company considered using. De Reyes told Janes on 16 February that the company was planning to use a Boeing 502 gas turbine engine in the half-scale prototype’s first flight, but decided against it when it discovered that the Boeing engine, which provides 300 hp, would max out at just over 300 kW for a few seconds.
Related: In 2019, Sabrewing announced VTOL Cargo Flights Are Coming to Saint Paul Island
Why it’s important: Sabrewing’s VTOL service offerings cater to both the commercial and defense industries, which is advantageous for the company with respect to diversifying revenue streams similar to the aerospace giants such as Boeing. However, its lack of significant milestone announcements as of late have indicated a potentially underfunded program.
Source // Janes