Skip to comments.Flying car a 'step closer': Terrafugia (Update)
Posted on 04/03/2012 11:29:32 AM PDT by Red Badger
Drivers hoping to slip the surly -- and traffic congested -- bonds of Earth moved a step closer to realizing their dream, as a US firm said it had successfully tested a street-legal plane.
Massachusetts-based firm Terrafugia said their production prototype "Transition" car-plane had completed an eight-minute test flight, clearing the way for it to hit the market within a year.
"With this flight, the team demonstrated an ability to accomplish what had been called an impossible dream," said founder Carl Dietrich.
The two-seater craft, which has the rounded features of a Fiat 500 and collapsible wings, is on presale for $279,000 and some 100 vehicles have already been ordered.
While many companies have successfully built a flying car, none have succeeded in producing more than a handful of models.
But things have changed since the clunky Curtiss Autoplane hopped and spluttered into action in the early 1900s.
New materials and computer-aided design mean today's flying cars are cheaper and lighter to build.
They also look more like "Blade Runner" than "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."
The successful test flight has given hope to aficionados that this staple of science fiction is a step closer to reality.
"Is it going to be like the Jetsons with everyone driving one in five years? No," admitted Winfield Keller, vice president of The International Flying Car Association, a trade group.
"But we are getting to the point where 10, maybe 15 years from now that the people owning and operating (them) will be everyday people."
In the meantime manufacturers hope they can build something that appeals to border security agencies, the police or the military, as well as hobbyists.
Terrafugia is targeting pilots looking for a bit more flexibility and fewer hangar fees.
Spanning 90 inches (2.3m) the same as a car, it fits into a normal-sized garage, before unfurling a 26 foot (8m) wingspan.
The Transition, they say offers unparalleled freedom of movement, with a range of 490 miles (787 kilometers) and without the need to check bags.
But to take advantage, would-be owners will need to have both a driver's and pilot's license -- with a minimum of 20 hours of flying time.
The craft needs 2,500 feet (762 meters) of runway for takeoff, meaning pulling onto the shoulder and escaping the traffic is not really an option.
"The Transition Street-Legal Airplane is now a significant step closer to being a commercial reality," the company said.
At least two other companies are racing to bring an autoplane to the market.
Dutch company PAL-V has tested a prototype gyrocopter-style car. It hopes to now build a full production prototype and to have the first deliveries by 2014.
California-based Moller International has built a personal vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, although it requires a little more training to operate.
The prototype "Transisition" car plane. Massachusetts-based firm Terrafugia said their production prototype "Transition" car-plane had completed an eight-minute test flight, clearing the way for it to hit the market within a year.
Terrafugia Inc. prototype flying car, dubbed the Transition, travels down a street with its wings folded.
A major hurdle to production of the Transition was removed recently when FAA granted the company a waiver to weight restrictions.
The Transition has two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car, and flew at 1,400 feet for eight minutes during the first test on March 23, 2012.
what do the others look like?
the only way this market will increase is to simplify controls beyond the stick into resembling a video game.
Is this a HOAX? It looks like it has neither a propeller, nor a jet engine, so what POWERS it?
Looks like a pusher prop behind the passenger compartment.
The propeller is behind the cockpit near the rear of the airplane/car.
This vehicle is a fanciful joke. They claim they are putting into production a vehicle that can climb to 1400 feet (traffic pattern altitude) and fly for eight minutes. Look. I fly for a living and am as excited as anyone else about the prospect of a real roadable airplane. This isn’t it. It has yet to climb above pattern altitude, land in a cross-wind, or recover from a spin. It has zero crash survivability as a car. It carries less than a Cessna 150. I applaud the balls it takes to try and market something like this, but the truth is it is wholly unworkable and will be bought by a few rich people as a toy. What is needed is an LSA that sells for less than $60,000.
Bet it will have to pay road use taxes plus FAA taxes.
But does it have airbags??
They probably said the same thing about the first car, plane, bike, etc. You have to walk before you run
Been waiting on Moller International since 1985....the “Tucker Torpedo” of our time.
jeez....if I'm going to spend $279,000 for a 2 seater car....I'll buy a Ferrari....
If it was the size of an Ford Excursion (that'll seat a family), I'd buy it!!
A bit of an armchair aerodynamacist on this end, I try to be gracious but I am having trouble here. Frontal area, parasite drag of the gear, the weight, and the almost Seabee like booms and if you are really schooled you will know what that did to pitching moments as it went faster.
But your line on the 60k LSA, the answer is a breakthrough in parts count, lower weight, and maybe even low end performance for low time pilots...
Ergo the Facetmobile...
Meh. This one is a LOT more practical. Unfortunately, it’s awfully expensive: http://www.physorg.com/news/2012-04-dutch-car.html
Watch it in the video. It’s not the one pictured there.
It’s slicker than snot!
An ugly aircraft and car all in one! LOL
And of course, the average Joe and Jane are still going to have to have serious flight training. It’s not going to be “The Jetsons” without serious automation and a very high degree of safety.
Unguarded prop. Yeah, that’ll pass muster with the safety nannies!
Looks like an updated version of the old “Aerocar”.
That is cool!!
"In 2003, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Moller for civil fraud (Securities And Exchange Commission v. Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller, Defendants) in connection with the sale of unregistered stock, and for making unsubstantiated claims about the performance of the Skycar. Moller settled this lawsuit by agreeing to a permanent injunction and paying $50,000. In the words of the SEC complaint, "As of late 2002, MI's approximately 40 years' [sic] of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet above the ground.""