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AFWERX, the Innovation Arm of the U.S. Air Force, Awards Phase II STTR Contract to Transcend Air


Transcend Air announced today that it was awarded a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer research and development contract from AFWERX, a Technology Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory. Transcend Air, in partnership with Auburn University, will further develop advanced flight control laws for high-speed flight with its Vy 400 vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL). “Specifically, the high speed flight is referred to as nap-of-the-earth (NOE) flight, which is a demanding regime where an aircraft stays low and follows the contours of terrain to remain undetected,” commented Peter Schmidt, COO of Transcend Air and Principal Investigator.

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Advanced flight control laws developed in simulation (Photo: Business Wire)

Transcend Air is extending its work with Professor Imon Chakraborty and his Vehicle Systems, Dynamics, and Design Laboratory ( and newly teaming with Professor Ehsan Taheri and his Aero-Astro Computational and Experimental Lab (ACE Lab). Control software will be demonstrated that enables the Vy 400 aircraft to automatically fly nap-of-the-earth in both simulation and real-world flight with 1/5th scale aircraft. The software reduces pilot workload and enables sustained flight in very close proximity to terrain at speeds two to three times faster than helicopters. This capability facilitates the mission of rescuing downed aircrews in one-quarter to one-eighth of the time it currently takes. With that improvement it is projected that nearly double the number of people can be rescued as before.

AFWERX is an arm of the United States Air Force that supports aircraft technology development for commercial and military purposes. VSDDL and ACE Lab are part of the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.


Transcend Air has designed a family of high speed tiltwing VTOL aircraft. Its Vy 400 is three times faster than helicopters with half the operating costs. Expectations are that the Vy 400 will dominate the VIP transport helicopter segment. It will also enable a new city-center to city-center Aerial Regional Transport service that is up to five times faster door to door, and lower cost as compared with current air travel options. Since 2009, Transcend Air has built and flown 15 prototype VTOL aircraft, giving their patented Vy a long lineage of real-world experience. The Vy 400 will not require new regulatory regimes or air traffic control systems because it utilizes proven technologies that include the General Electric CT7-8 engine and BRS Aerospace whole-aircraft parachute. The Vy 400 brings with it the promise of civil VTOL flight that is within everyone’s reach.

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Contact information

Peter Schmidt,
t. 781-883-4818

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