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Rediff.com  » Business » Flying car? Here's what it is like!

Flying car? Here's what it is like!

June 25, 2009 14:59 IST

Flying car? Here's what it is like!

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Founded in 2006 by award-winning Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained aeronautical engineers and management whizkids, Terrafugia is a company with a mission: to provide innovative solutions to the challenges facing personal aviation.

The result: the Transition Roadable Aircraft.


Image: The Terrafugia Transition after being pulled out of the hangar.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Its unique design allows the Transition to fold its wings and drive on any surface road with a modern personal airplane platform.

Once at the airport, the wings extend and the aircraft is ready.


Image: The Terrafugia Transition taxiing to the runway.
Photographs: Courtesy,Terrafugia
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Powered testing of the Proof of Concept has been ongoing since the second half of 2008.

Construction, testing and certification of the Production Prototype will follow completion of the Proof of Concept's testing program.


Image: The first flight of the Terrafugia Transition in Plattsburgh, New York. Photo taken from chase aircraft.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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First customer delivery of a Transition Roadable Aircraft is expected to occur in 2011.

To date, Terrafugia remains privately funded by a group of accredited individual investors.

The company is based just outside Boston in Woburn, Massachusetts, USA.


Image: The first flight of the Terrafugia Transition in Plattsburgh, NY. Photo taken from chase truck.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Performance

  • Cruise: 100 kts (115 mph)
  • Rotate: 70 kts (80 mph)
  • Fuel burn: 5 gph (gallons per hour)
  • Fuel tank: 20 gallons
  • Useful load: 430 lbs
  • On road: 30 miles per gallon, highway speeds
  • Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)

1 US gallon = 3.78 litres


Image: A view from the back of the Terrafugia Transition.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Convenience

  • Front wheel drive on the ground
  • Automotive-style entry and exit
  • Automated electromechanical folding wing
  • No trailer or hangar needed
  • Cargo area holds skis, fishing poles or golf clubs

Image: The Transition Roadable Light Sport Aircraft Proof of Concept on the road.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Safety

  • Drive in case of inclement weather
  • Proven 100 hp Rotax 912S engine
  • Full vehicle parachute available
  • Modern glass avionics
  • Automotive crash safety features

Image: The Transition Roadable Light Sport Aircraft Proof of Concept runs on premium unleaded auto gas. Carl Dietrich, CEO/CTO is shown with the Transition.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Dimensions

Folded:

  • 6 feet 9 inches tall
  • 6 feet 8 inches wide
  • 18 feet 9 inches long

Airplane:

  • 6 feet 3 inches tall
  • 19 feet 2 inches long

Wingspan:

  • 27 fee 6 inches

Cockpit:

  • 51 inches at the shoulder

Image: The Transition Roadable Light Sport Aircraft Proof of Concept with wings extended at home.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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The Transition can take off or land at any public use general aviation airport with at least 2,500 feet of runway.

On the ground, the Transition can be driven on any road and parked in a standard parking space or household garage.


Image: The Transition Roadable Light Sport Aircraft Proof of Concept fits in a single car garage with the wings folded.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Once on the ground, with the wings folded, the vehicle can be driven on any road.

The Transition is powered by a certified aircraft engine that runs on unleaded automotive gasoline.

Perfect for trips between 100 and 500 miles, the Transition is not designed to replace anyone's automobile.


Image: The TransitionRoadable Light Sport Aircraft Proof of Concept arrives by ground.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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After landing, the pilot activates the electro-mechanical wing folding mechanism from inside the cockpit.

The wings fold, once at the root and once at the mid-span, and are stowed vertically on the sides of the vehicle in less than 30 seconds.

Simultaneously, the engine power is directed to the front wheels with a continuously variable transmission.


Image: The Terrafugia Transition flying with Lake Champlain in the background.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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Before flying, the pilot extends the wings and performs a standard preflight. The engine power is directed to the propeller for flight through a carbon fibre drive shaft.

If bad weather is encountered en route, the pilot can land and drive without worrying about ground transportation.

At the destination airport the pilot can fold the wings and drive off the airfield without having to move bags or arrange for additional transportation.

Driving and flying can be combined between multiple airports as it is not necessary to take off and land at the same field.


Image: A view of the Transition as it passes overhead.
Photographs: Courtesy, Terrafugia
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