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Thu, Jun 04, 2009

Terrafugia Continues Flight Testing 'Flying Car'

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 Prototype.”

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.

FMI: http://www.terrafugia.com/

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