Doc­tor has plan for ver­ti­cal jet

Sky’s the limit for plas­tic sur­geon

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SAMEER NAIK

PLAS­TIC sur­geon Reza Mia is a true high-flyer. He’s a doc­tor whose great­est de­sire in life has real wings.

The first clue is his Kil­lar­ney of­fice, which is more of a hangar than a doc­tor’s room, the model air­planes sug­gest­ing the doc­tor’s air­borne ad­ven­tures.

Last week the 33-year-old avi­a­tion-mad aes­thetic medicine spe­cial­ist trav­elled to Toulouse, France, where he was in­vited by lead­ing air­craft man­u­fac­turer Air­bus to present his idea of the world’s first com­mer­cial ver­ti­cal take­off and land­ing air­plane.

Mia spent the past four years de­sign­ing a ver­ti­cal busi­ness jet (VBJ) – an at­tempt to rev­o­lu­tionise lux­ury travel that com­bines the best of fixed wings and he­li­copters.

The air­plane can ac­com­mo­date up to eight pas­sen­gers and can fly up to six-and-a-half hours at 798km/h.

While he still has plenty of work to do be­fore his ver­ti­cal busi­ness jet can take to the skies, Mia said Air­bus was im­pressed with his de­sign.

Mia, the brother of plas­tic sur­geon Rid­wan Mia who worked on burn vic­tim Pip­pie Kruger, said: “We are ca­pa­ble of fin­ish­ing the de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing the aero­plane with­out any out­side as­sis­tance, but it would be nice to have them (Air­bus) as a part­ner as it would speed up the process.”

Should all go to plan, Mia ex­pects the first ver­ti­cal busi­ness jets to be man­u­fac­tured in three to five years and for it to go on sale to prospec­tive buy­ers in the next five to seven years. He es­ti­mates that the ver­ti­cal busi­ness jet will ini­tially sell for around $15 mil­lion.

Mia said what set his de­sign apart was that the jet would be able to land any­where.

“It flies at true busi­ness jet speeds and can land on any sur­face (even dry grass) with­out set­ting fire to it, thanks to the cool air fans that are used for the ver­ti­cal take off and land­ing.

“The air­plane will be much quieter than he­li­copters and pos­sess far greater speed, range and safety.

“This will ap­peal to any­one who in the past has owned both a busi­ness jet and a he­li­copter, but also to he­li­copter own­ers, gov­ern­ments, com­pa­nies, game farms, mines, owner pi­lots, anti-poach­ing and anti-piracy or­gan­i­sa­tions, emer­gency res­cue, and trans­port and flight en­thu­si­asts.”

With plenty of com­peti­tors and no track record in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, Mia knew his de­sign would have to be “spe­cial” to com­pete.

“I wanted to pro­duce a busi­ness jet, but I knew that if we were to pro­duce some­thing on par with the lead­ers in busi­ness jet man­u­fac­tur­ing, no one would buy it be­cause we would be a new start-up with­out a track record.

“There­fore the air­plane would need to be unique in the world. I brain­stormed and as­sessed a few con­cep­tual ideas, but ver­ti­cal take-off and land­ing is the one that stuck with me.”

From there, he hired an engi­neer­ing firm to do a con­cep­tual de­sign study, “and we have steadily pro­gressed from there”.

To­gether with look­ing af­ter his pa­tients and de­sign­ing an air­plane, Mia is also in the process of get­ting his pi­lot’s li­cence.

He said there was no way he was go­ing to miss out on fly­ing his own plane.

“This is my main rea­son for go­ing for fly­ing lessons. I’d re­ally like to fly my own air­plane so that I get to share in the fun of fly­ing the VBJ and, of course, it would make for great mar­ket­ing if the CEO and founder of the com­pany were to fly the air­plane him­self.”

While his love for planes has kept him very busy, Mia said he had no in­ten­tion of walk­ing away from his day job as a plas­tic sur­geon.

“I put my pa­tients first. Aes­thetic medicine is easy to sched­ule be­cause the pa­tients are not sick or in need of ur­gent help.

“The two fields are sim­i­lar. Both rely on physics, ba­sic sciences, art and prob­lem solv­ing, and that cre­ativ­ity can­not be con­fined to a sin­gle dis­ci­pline. It must be ex­ploited wher­ever it emerges,” he said.

sameer.naik@inl.co.za

PIC­TURE: AN­TOINE DE RAS

Plas­tic sur­geon Reza Mia, 33, is plan­ning the world’s first ver­ti­cal take-off busi­ness jet. He says it could be ready in five years but he won’t walk away from his day job as a plas­tic sur­geon.

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