Thu, Jun 04, 2009
It's Two, Two, Two Vehicles In One
Almost since the first heavier-than-air powered flight, the
flying car has been something of the Holy Grail of aviation. How
many of us have dreamed of pulling our car out of the garage and
having the option of driving to the store or flying to the next
city without changing vehicles? Well, Terrafugia Inc. says it has
successfully completed the flight testing program designed for its
Transition Roadable Aircraft Proof of Concept.
Having been dubbed “The Flying Car”, the Transition
completed its historic first flight on March 5, 2009 with 27
additional flights completed over the next several weeks. The
successful completion of flight-testing with the Proof of Concept
concludes the first stage of a four stage process to bring the
Transition into production. Work is underway on Stage 2, the Beta
Prototype. The first production delivery is expected in 2011.
So far, the Proof of Concept vehicle is the only Transition to
be built, and it has now achieved its goals by demonstrating
driving, flying, and automated transition between the two in one
integrated aircraft. The flights were specifically designed to test
characteristics such as handling, performance, and take-offs and
landings. Stability and stall characteristics were also evaluated.
The flight-testing program demonstrated the safety of the vehicle
in the air while identifying modifications that will be
incorporated into the next model to be built.
Test Pilot Colonel (Retired) Phil Meteer had a positive review
of flying the POC: “I would like to keep flying this Proof of
Concept vehicle, but it makes sense to move on to the Beta
Categorized as a Light Sport Aircraft, the Transition requires a
Sport Pilot certificate to fly. It is a two-place aircraft designed
to take off and land at local airports and drive on any road.
Transforming from plane to car takes the pilot less than 30
seconds. The Transition will cruise up to 450 miles at over 115
mph, and will drive at highway speeds on the road. It fits in a
standard household garage, and burns regular automotive gas.
The company was founded in 2006 by five pilots with degrees from
MIT, so there's a good possibility they'll be able to make it work.
But we'll have to wait a while longer before we have one that folds
up into George Jetsons' briefcase.
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